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Abraham Lincoln's 

Sense of Humor 

Excerpts from newspapers and other 


From the files of the 
Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection 


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Lincoln's Laughter. 

The very phrase is misleading. Did 
Lincoln laugh? He made others 
laugh, told perpetual, inimitable 
stories that neither tears nor anger 
coult resist; but he himself was neith- 
er a loud, nor a riotous, nor an inap- 
propriate laugher. f C / // 

To hi mlaughter was a solvent of 
the difficulties of life — a gentle, uni- 
versal balm to soothe the blows and 
rubs and stings that even the stout- 
est shoulders must receive from the 
buffeting of common toil, and above 
all, from the immense effort to set, 
right the tangled tissues and the un- 
hinged framework of this everlast- 
ingly imperfect world in which we 
live. To Lincoln laughter was not a 
gesture; it was a point of view. 

It was something exquisite and nec- 
essary as an antidate to tears. How 
would the great President have borne 
his unequaled load of pain if he had 
not been able to relieve it by the 
smile that comes from seeing the pet- 
tiness of all evil as compard with the 
goodness of God? 

But it was not merely for comic 
relief that Lincoln made use of laugh- 
ter. He gave it a richer function. For 
relaxing tense situations he knew that 
there is nothing like it. A man can- 
not knock you down, or even insult 
you, if you make him laugh. The bur- 
ly Stanton, the aggressive Chase, the 
wily Seward went to Cabinet meet- 
ings each with a chip on his shoulder. 
Lincoln told a story, and they laugh- 
ed, one and all, until the chip fell ' 
off. Then he could mould them to 
his purposes. 

The rarity if such humor in states- 
men of Lincoln's rank has never been 
sufficiently noticed. Where was it 
in Cromwell or Napoleon? Take the 
long list of great Americans — Jeffer- 
son, the Adamses, Jackson, Webster, 
Sumner; how much more attractive 
some of them would have been if they 
had had it! Take even Washington; 
great as he is, he stands above us 
and apart from us, on a cold pedestal. 
But Lincoln we can touch — largely be- 
cause of his laughter. Only Frank- 
lin shared that high quality of hu- 
mor with him. Emerson speaks of 
"nestling in Plato's brain." Thank) 
God, we can nestle in Lincoln's heart!! 
— Youth's Companion. 


Lincoln Stories 

Compiled by Arthur Guiterman 

d had i 

ability of the 

i jest with danger 
ion. Evils existed 
be borne ; so why 
:hcni more bearable 
by laughing at them? True 
humor is always philosophical. 
irists of to-day, Mark Twain, Mr. 
Dooley, George Ade and others who at first 
glimpse seem trivial, tell the truth in jest, 
and teach us with laughter. Our joke makers 
oonists who make jests of social, 
political and industrial evils arc but the pu- 
pils of the pioneers. They laugh, but their 
laughter is the prelude to reform. 
Abraham Lincoln. Humorist 
Abraham Lincoln was a true American 
humorist, born, bred and educated. Born 
and bred on the frontier, and taught from 
infancy to make light of hardship ; trained 
as a circuit-riding lawyer in Sa 
County in constant battle with kee 
compeers, trained on the pol 

thankfully e 

■ ougli, 

cal stun 

than once obtained a hearing from hostile 
assemblies by telling funny stories until his 
audience, helpless with sheer laughter, were 
forced to let him speak; trained as Presi- 
dent of the United States in the darkest 
days of the Republic, when by incisive wit 
and illuminating metaphor he disarmed crit- 
icism and forced truth upon those unwilling 
to sec the light. 

He had read few books, but four he knew 
well . Shakespeare, the Bible, Esop's Fables 
and Pilgrim's Progress. The great drama- 
tist he loved and could quote with unusual 
freedom and accuracy ; but the Bible, con- 
sciously or unconsciously, most strongly 
influenced his mode of expression; witness 
his bent toward rude parable, and the Strom;, 
direct style and sonorous rhythm of his 
greatest literary productions— the splendid 
second inaugural and the Gettysburg ad 

Advice to Young Men 
He was not a great observer of diplomatic 
formalities. On a momentous occasion Lord 
Lyons, the English ambassador, called upon 
the president with great ceremony. 

•'May it please your excellency." he began 
impressively. "I hold in my hand an auto 
graph letter from my royal mistress. Queen 
Vir'nri^ which I have been commanded to 
present to your excellency. In it she informs 
your excellency that her son, His Royal 
Highness, the Prince of Wales, is about to 
contract a matrimonial alliance with Her 
Royal Highness, the Princess Alexandra of 
Denmark." After several minutes more of 
this the ambassador formally presented the 
letter and awaited the reply. 

"Lord Lyons," said the president, "go thou 
and do likewise." . 

Gentle Reproof 
Another story told by Mr. Colfax illus- 
trates at once Lincoln's loyalty to his asso- 
ciates and his familiarity with the Bible. 

Some ill-advised caller was bitterly de- 
nouncing the able but unpopular Secretary 
Stanton and his management of the War 
Department. After listening a while with 
his usual patience Lincoln curtly closed the 
interview, saying, "Go home, my friend, and 
read attentively the tenth verse of the thir- 
tieth chapter of Proverbs." [Ac 

"So I got in. 
drove along for a time in silence, eacn read- 
ing his papers. But that wagon pitched from 
one side of the road to the other, and 
jounced in and out of ruts and bumped 
from stump to stone until I grew suspicious 
and putting my head out of the windo-w saw 
that the driver was fairly rolling in his seat. 
" 'Judge Warren,' said I, 'though I hate 
to criticize, I do think that your coachman 
has been taking a drop too much this fine 

" T declare, Lincoln,' said he. 'I shouldn t 
wonder if you were right,' and he put his 
head out of the window. 'Why, you scoun- 
drel !' he shouted, 'you're drunk!' 

"The coachman pulled up his horses and 
turned around with great gravity. 'Bcdad,* 
said he, 'but that's the first rightful decision 
yer honor's given these last twelve months!' " 

Military Arithmetic 
"About how many rebels are there in the 
field, Mr. President?" inquired an anxious 


elve ht 

ndred thousand," answered 


n, imprt 



od heav 

ns!" gasped 

the visitor. 


s, sir, tw 

elve hundred thousand at least 


a doubt 

of it. You 

ee we have only 



thousand me 

n, and whenever 

any o 

f our ge 

nerals get w 

lipped good and 


they report that the 

enemy outnum- 

us three 

ne. Three times 


is twelv 

e. Yes, sir, 

twelve hundred 


ind men 

at least — not 

a doubt of it." 


Only the Living Wail 

At a time when there was great i 
for the Western Army a telegram 
ceived reporting that "firing Wi 
the direction of Knoxville." 

"I'm glad of it," said Lincoln. 

"Glad of it? Mr. President! 
some one with the perils of Bun 
tion uppermost in his mind. 

"Yes," repeated Lincoln, "glad of it. Yon 
see it reminds me of Mistress Sallie Ward, a 
neighbor of mine out in Sangamon. Now ' 
Mistress Sallie Ward had more children than 
she could count, and they kept roaming all 
over the county. And whenever she heard 
one of her numerous flock raising a cry of 
distress from some out-of-the-way place, 
'Welt!' Mistress Sallie Ward would say 

cheerfully, 'then 

of my children : 

It Comforted Sary Ann 

upon capturing Ship Island, near N 

ew Or- 

leans, issued an exceedingly premat 

ire and 

bombastic, and wholly unauthorized, 


mation declaring all slaves free froi 

i bond 

age. To (he surprise of all Lincoln 

took no 

official notice of this assumption of 


ily. A friend remonstrated with hin 

for his 

seeming indifference in regard to so 


nt ; 


, lest he 

thou be found guilty.) 

Nobility No Hand 1C3 p 
the war a former lit 

: thee ; 

Early i 

the Pruss: 
his debts to resign his commiss 
leave his fatherland, gained adi 
Lincoln, who, impressed By the al 
evident intelligence and tri 
young man, promised him a 
cavalry. Delighted with his favor; 
tion, the young officer considered 
to confide to the president the 
fact that he belonged to one of 
noble houses of Germany. 

"Oh," answered Lincoln, 
"you won't find that the slightest 
r advancement." 

The Judge's One rightful Dc. 

had been forced by 


with the president agai 

1st the 



to an important judicial 


n of a 


ern man who had once 



on the 

bench, but who had a v 

;ry indifferen 


tation for legal ability. 

"Well now, Judge," sa 

id Lin 

oln so 


ly, "I think you're rather sev 

ere 01 


rcn. Besides he did me a 


urn long ago 

"When I was on circt 

it in Illinois. 


ing on foot ten or twelv 

E miles 

to cou 

rt over 

and I'll give you 

"Ah, well," said the president, "I feel 
about General Phelps and his proclamation a 
good deal the way Dick Jones did about his 
wife and her doings. Jones was one of your 
meek men and had the reputation of being 
terribly henpecked. One day his wife was 
seen fairly switching the poor man out of 
his house. 

"The next day an indignant friend met the 
patient victim, and proceeded to give him a 
piece of his mind. 'Look here, Jones,' said 
the candid friend, 'I've always stood up for 
you when people said things, but I'm done. 
The man who'll stand quietly and take a 
switching from his wife ought to be horse- 
whipped! That's what!' 

"Jones looked up with a wink and patted 
his friend on the back. 'Sho' now,' he whis- 
pered soothingly, 'don't you care. Why, it 
didn't hurt me any, and you've no idea what 
a power of good it did Sary Ann!'" 
A Double-Pointed Tale 
In 1864 a delegation of clergymen of dif- 
ferent denominations called 'on Lincoln to 
tell him that the character of many of the 
regimental chaplains was notoriously bad, 
and to urge more discretion in appointments. 
"But, gentlemen," said the president, "that 
is a matter with which the government has 
nothing whatever to do. The chaplains are 
chosen by the regiments." Still the clergy- 
men urged a change in the system, with 
many more uncomplimentary remarks in re- 
gard to the character of the chaplains in the 

Lincoln heard them through without re- 
mark. Then he said, quietly, "Don't think I 
mean any disrespect to the cloth, gentlemen, 
but I'd like to tell you a little story. 

"Once in Springfield I was going off on a 

short journey, and reached the station so 

' much ahead of train time that I had time to 

look around. Just outside the door in the 

middle of the road stood a little darky whom 

I knew, digging with his toe in a mud puddle. 

"'What are you doing. Dick?' said I. 

" 'Makin' a chu'eh,' said he. 

Lincoln Stones 

" "A church ?' said I. 

" 'Sure, boss,' said he, pointing with his 
toe, 'dere's de steps, an' dere's de pews 
where de folks set, an' dere's de pulpit.' 

" 'Yes, I see,' said I, 'but why don't you 


looked up 

vith a 




1' he 

said. ' 


't got 

nod e 

tough 1 

"Sufficient for the Day' 

A cl 

ergyman fro 

n Spri 




, the 



home t 

own, \ 

»ho called 



coin e 


in his 







s, very 


s to d 



was t( 


his po 

icy on 

the s 




"Well," said the president, "I will answer 
by telling you a story: You know Father B., 
the old Methodist preacher? and you know 
Fox River and its freshets? Well, once a 
zealous young Methodist was worrying 
about Fox River, and expressing fear that 
he should be prevented from keeping ap- 
pointments by a freshet. 

"'Young man,' said Father B., 'I make it 


Fox Rivei 
' And," concluded Lincoln, 
and the slavery question." 

The President and the Press 
Lincoln never failed to value the educ; 
nal power of the press, but unjust, baselei 
wspaper attacks caus 

erable annoyance. U 
■lly, "I'm like the I 
■10 was lost in a w 
.lack night. A ten 
yet though he was 
rain, the glare of the 

Lord.' he prayed, 'if it 


d rathei 
the fn 

Id c 
fie s 

tuntry on a pitch- 
torm was raging, 
ted by wind and 
ling alone showed 


his kn 
1 the san 

and a 




Parables for Naggers 

To one of the delegations of well-inten- 
tioned faultfinders that continually pestered 
him he said: 

"Gentlemen, suppose all the property you 
were worth was in gold, and you had put it 
in the hands of Blondin to carry across 
Niagara on a rope ; would you shake the 
cable or keep shouting, 'Blondin, stand up 
a little straighter!' 'Blondin, stoop a little 
more!' 'Go a little faster!' 'Go a little 
slower!' 'Le.m a little more to the South!' 
■Lean a little more to the North!'? No! You 
would hold your breath as well as your 
tongues and pray silently until he ivas safe 

"Now the government is carrying an im- 
mense weight. Untold treasures are in their 
hands. They are doing the best they can. 
Don't badger. Keep silence and we'll get 
you safe across." 

Some of his comments on persons who 
persisted in harping on their own petty af- 
fairs in a time of great national peril are 
well worth remembering. During a public 
reception a farmer from one of the border 
counties of Virginia complained to the presi- 
dent that the Union soldiers in passing his 
farm had helped themselves to his hay and 
he hoped the president would see that his 
claim was considered immediately. 

"Being from Virginia," said Lincoln, "I 
hardly suppose you ever heard of my old 
acquaintance, Jack Chase, the best lumbcr- 


the IUir 









Jack Chase should be 
and pilot. He always 
g through the dangerous 

; and 
J a. 

uld make 1 

, I I , . I 

k twenty-five years ago to take 
F craft through the rapids, but 
skillful, steady, sober man and 
I to come through safely. 

took the 

e little craft 
in the boiling 
:k was using the utmost ' 
lance and all the skill of head, 1 
to keep her safe in the na^ro^ 
small boy came up, pulled his coat tail and 
shouted, 'Hey ! Mr. Captain, I wish you'd 
stop your old boat a minute, I've lost my 
apple overboard !' " 

Political Comments 
Strange though it looks to us to-day that 
there should have been any doubt of Lin- 
coln's reelection, victory in the campaign of 
1864 was not a foregone conclusion. With all 
his modesty Lincoln had learned that it was 
essential to the vigorous conduct of the war 
and the welfare of the nation that his ad- 

iaid, "I can't run the political 
:hine. I have enough on my hands with- 

that. It is the people's business — this 
;tion. If they turn their backs to the 

and get scorched, they'll have to sit on 

lefore Lincoln's rcnomination it was 

^..umer member of his adn 


secretly scheming for 

the prize. 

urged by a friend to 

put a 


of political treachery 

said the president. 

n a farm and know 


a lip 

my brother and I w 

re pi 


in Sangamon, I driv 

ng ai 

d he 

,r old horse was so 



i this 

brought up i 
fly is. Once 

guiding. Oi 

we could hardly persuade him to move, but 
all of a sudden he started up and tore along 
the furrow so fast that I could hardly keep 
pace with him for all my long legs. When 
finally he brought up against the fence I 
saw there was a large lip fly on the ten- 
derest part of his mouth and knocked the 
thing off. 

did you do that for?' said my 


'I don't 


aid horse bitten 

like thai 

lid 1. 

'Why,' said my brother, 'the lip fly was 
all that was making him go!' 

"Now, our friend is doing splendid work 
in his department; and if the presidential 
lip fly is making him go I'm the last man 
in the world to knock it off." 

Commenting upon some rather sharp prac- 
tice by political opponents he said, "It's not 
worth fretting about. A friend of mine had 
a boy of scientific turn of mind who put 
everything under the microscope. At supper 
one evening the father was about to take up 



■Oh, pa! Do 
glers I' 

"'Let 'em wriggle!' said the 
ing a huge bite ; 'if they ca 

full of ' 

stand it, I 

Root, Hog, or Die 

During the famous conference between 
President Lincoln, Secretary Seward and 
the Confederate Peace Commissioners on 
hoard the River Queen, at Hampton Roads, 
Mr. Hunter, one of the Confederate com- 
missioners, remonstrated against the imme- 
diate emancipation of the slaves, on the 
ground that under the unwonted conditions 
neither blacks nor whites would work, so 
that all would starve. 

As Secretary Seward seemed to have no 
answer ready for this argument, the presi- 
dent said, "Well, Mr. Hunter, you ought to 
know about this a great deal better than I, 
as you have always lived under a slave sys- 
tem. But I can only say in reply to your 
statement of the situation tb-t lf 'emiiyi? 
me of a man out in Illinois by the name of 
Case, who ?er on* ic r<iisc- a large iierd of 

"It was a great trouble to feed them, but 
at last he hit on the plan of planting an im- 
mense field of potatoes and when these were 
sufficiently grown he turned in the hogs, 
thus saving the labor of feeding and also 
;ing the pol 





pleased with himself when up c 
bor who said, "Now, Mr. Case, this is very 
nice at present, but what are your hogs 
going to do in December when the ground 
freezes a foot deep ?' 

"This was something that Case hadn't 
taken into account. He scratched his head 
a while and then he stammered, 'Well, it 
may come pretty hard on their snouts, but 
I guess it'll have to be, root, hog, or die!" 

The Unwelcome Captive 
After the downfall of the Confederacy a 

friend asked the president what he was 
going to do with Jefferson Davis. Lincoln 
laughed and answered: 

"There was a boy in Springfield who 
saved up his pennies and bought a coon. 
That coon was lots of fun for a while, but 
soon developed into a first-class nuisance, 
scratching, biting and tearing his young 
owner's clothes almost off his back. The 
youngster after leading his captive through 
the streets on the end of a rope and having 
a hard time to keep clear of the teeth of the 
little vixen, sat down on a curb, completely 
fagged out. 

A passer-by, noticing the boy's disconsolate 
face, asked him what was the matter. 

" 'Oh.' said he, 'this coon is such a trouble 

" 'Well,' said the other, 'why don't you get 

rid of him?' 

" 'Sh-h !' whispered the youngster ; 'he's 
gnawing his rope off now when he thinks I'm 
not looking. I'm going to let him do it; 
and then I'll go home and tell the folks that 
he got away from me!'" 

Innumerable stories are told of the acts 
of kindness and mercy that marked every 
day of the official life of the great president. 
Although he had many enemies he was no 
man's enemy, and his every utterance is full 
of the spirit that animates his creed so 
nobly expressed in the wonderful second 
inaugural address: "With malice towards 
none, with charity for all, with firmness in 
the right as God gives us to see the right." 

Lincoln's Laughter. 

The very phrase is misleading. Did 
Lincoln laugh? He made others 
laugh, told perpetual, inimitable 
stories that neither tears nor anger 
coult resist; but he himself was neith- 
er a loud, nor a riotous, nor an inap- 
propriate laugher. f ' C / /y 

To hi mlaughter was a solvent of 
the difficulties of life — a gentle, uni- 
versal balm to soothe the blows and 
rubs and stings that even the stout- 
est shoulders must receive from the 
buffeting of common toil, and above ' 
all, from the immense effort to set, 
right the tangled tissues and the un- 
hinged framework of this everlast- 
ingly imperfect world in which we 
live. To Lincoln laughter was not a, 
gesture; it was a point of view. 

It was something exquisite and nec- 
essary as an antidate to tears. How 
would the great President have borne 
his unequaled load of pain if he had 
not been able to relieve it by the 
smile that comes from seeing the pet- 
tiness of all evil as compard with the 
goodness of God? 

But it was not merely for comic 
relief that Lincoln made use of laugh- 
ter. He gave it a richer function. For 
relaxing tense situations he knew that 
there is nothing like it. A man can- 
not knock you down, or even insult 
you, if you make him laugh. The bur- 
ly Stanton, the aggressive Chase, the 
wily Seward went to Cabinet meet- 
ings each with a chip on his shoulder. 
Lincoln told a story, and they laugh- 
ed, one and all, until the chip fell ' 
off. Then he could mould them to 
his purposes. 

The rarity if such humor in states- 
men of Lincoln's rank has never been 
sufficiently noticed. Where was it 
in Cromwell or Napoleon? Take the 
long list of great Americans — Jeffer- 
son, the Adamses, Jackson, Webster, 
Sumner; how much more attractive 
some of them would have been if they 
had had it! Take even Washington; 
great as he is, he stands above us 
and apart from us, on a cold pedestal. 
But Lincoln we can touch — largely be- 
cause of his laughter. Only Frank- 
lin shared that high quality of hu- 
mor with him. Emerson speaks of 
"nestling in Plato's brain." ThankJ 
God, we can nestle in Lincoln's heart!! 
— Youth's Companion. 



The very phrase is misleading. Did 
Lincoln laugh? He made others laugh, 
told perpetual, inimitable stories that 
neither tears nor anger could resist; but 
he himself was neither a loud, nor a riot- 
ous, nor an inappropriate laugher.^/^ 

To him laughter was a solvent of the 
difficulties of life— a gentle, universal 
balm to soothe the blows and rubs and 
stings that even the stoutest shoulders 
must receive from the buffeting of com- 
mon toil, and above all, from the immense 
effort to set right the tangled tissues 
and the unhinged framework of this ever- 
lastingly imperfect world in which we 
live. To Lincoln laughter was not a ges- 
ture; it was a point of view. 

Tt was something exquisite and neces- 
sary as an antidote to tears. How would 
the great President have borne his un- 
equaled load of pain if he had not been 
able to relieve it by the smile that comes 
from seeing the pettiness of all evil as 
compared with the goodness of God? 

But it was not merely for comic relief 
that Lincoln made use of laughter. He 
gave it a richer function. For relaxine 
tense situations he knew that there is 

nothing like it. A man cannot knock 
you down, or even insult you, if you make 
him laugh. The burly Stanton, the ag- 
gressive Chase, the wily Seward went 
to Cabinet meetings each with a chip 
on his shoulder. Lincoln told a story, and 
they laughed, one and' all, until the chip 
fell off. Then he could mold them to his 

The rarity of such humor in statesmen 
of Lincoln's rank has never been suffi- 
ciently noticed. Where was it in Crom- 
well or Napoleon? Take the long list of 
great Americans — Jefferson, the Adamses, 
Jackson, Webster, Sumner; how much 
more attractive some of them would have 
been if they had had it! Take even 
Washington; great as he is, he stands 
above us and apart from us, on a cold 
pedestal. But Lincoln we can touch — 
largely because of his laughter. Only 
Franklin shared' that high quality of 
humor with him. Emerson speaks of 
"nestling in Plato's brain." Thank God, 
we can nestle in Lincoln's heart. — Youth's 

J tfKl £HT 



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The very phrase is misleading. Did 
Lincoln laugh? He made others laugh, 
told perpetual, inimitable stories that 
neither tears nor anger could resist; but 
he himself was neither a loud, nor a riot- 
ous, nor an inappropriate laugherYf/C 

To him laughter was a solvent of the 
difficulties of life— a gentle, universal 
balm to soothe the blows and rubs and 
stings that even the stoutest shoulders 
must receive from the buffeting of com- 
mon toll, and above all, from the Immense 
effort to set right the tangled tissues 
and the unhinged framework of this ever- 
lastingly imperfect world In which we 
live. To Lincoln laughter was not a ges- 
ture; it was a point of view. 

Tt was something exquisite and neces- 
sary as an antidote to tears. How would 
the great President have borne his un- 
equaled load of pain if he had not been 
able to relieve it by the smile that comes 
from seeing the pettiness of all evil as 
compared with the goodness of God? 

But it was not merely for comic relief 
that Lincoln made use of laughter. He 
gave it a richer function. For relaxing 
tense situations he knew that there is 

nothing like it. A man cannot knock 
you down, or even insult you, if you make 
him laugh. The burly Stanton, the ag- 
gressive Chase, the wily Seward went 
to Cabinet meetings each with a chip 
on his shoulder. Lincoln told a story, and 
they laughed, one and' all, until the chip 
fell off. Then he could mold them to his 

The rarity of such humor in statesmen 
of Lincoln's rank has never been suffi- 
ciently noticed. Where was it in Crom- 
well or Napoleon? Take the long list of 
great Americans — Jefferson, the Adamses, 
Jackson, Webster, Sumner; how much 
more attractive some of them would have 
been if they had had it! Take even 
Washington; great as he is, he stands 
above us and apart from us, on a cold 
pedestal. But Lincoln we can touch — 
largely because of his laughter. Only 
Franklin shared' that high quality of 
humor with him. Emerson speaks of 
"nestling in Plato's brain." Thank God, 
we can nestle in Lincoln's heart. — Youth's 



By Quaker O 'Taylor 

EARLY In 1SG5 a Southern man 
wrote to Lirtcoln that as slaves 
were accustomed to work under 
compulsion, by . being suddenly 
freed ft would bring ruin on the 
South, and whites and blacks 
would starve together. 
Lincoln made this convincing 
'? reply: "I .can only say, in reply 
to your statement of the case, that it re- 
minds .me of a man out in Illinois, by the 
name of Case, w'ho undertook, a few year 
ago, to. raise a large herd of. hogs. It wa 
a great trouble to feed them; and how to 
, get around" this was a puzzle to him. At 
length he liltrupon the plan of planting an 
Immense 'field of potatoes,' and, when they 
were sufficiently grown, lie turned the whole 
herd into the field and let them have full 
swing, thus saving not only the labor of 
feeding the.hogs,' but that also of digging 
the potatoes! ■ Charmed. with his 'sagacity, 
lie stood one day leaning against the fence, 
counting his hogsV when a neighbor came 
;■ along. 'Well, well,' said he, 'Mr. Case, this 
; is all very fine. Your ] hogs are doing very 
well just now; but you -know 'out here in 
Illinois the 'frost comes early, and the 
ground freezes a foot deep. Then what 
you 'going to do?' This was a view of 
, matter' which air. Case had 'not 'taken into 
account. -Butchering' time for hogs was 
away ' on In . December or January.' He 
scratched his head and at length stammered, 
'Well, it may come pretty hard on their 
snouts, but I don't see but it will be root, 
hog, or die.'" ■■ -', v - -' • 

Upon one occasion a delegation of bank- 
ers called at the White House and bitterly 
protested to President Lincoln against a 
bill passed by Congress taxing banks. The 
President listened attentively to what they 
had to say, and replied: "Now that reminds 
me :of a circumstance that took place, in 
neighborhood where I lived when I was a 
boy. In the Spring of the year the farmers 
were fond of a dish which they called 
.'greens.' One day after dinner, a large 
family were taken very 111. The doctor was 
called in, who attributed it to the greens, 
of which all had freely partaken. Living- in 
the family was a half-witted boy named 
Jake. On a. subsequent occasion, when 
greens had been gathered for dinner, the 
.head of the house said/ 'Now, boys, before 
running any further risk on this thing, we 
will first -try thera on Jake. If hestands it, 
we are all right,' ..And just so, t suppose 
Congress thought it would try this tax on 
the State Banks." 

A. short time before the close of. the war 
some ono asked Lincoln what he expected 
to do with Jefferson Davjs, President of the 
Confederate States. His reply was in the 
form of a story: - '. : \ 

■- "There was a boy in Springfield who saved 
up his money' and bought a coon, which, 
after the novelty wore 1 off, became a great 
nuisance, He was- one day leading him 
through the streets, and had his hands full 
to keep clear of the little vixen, who. had 
torn his clothes half off of him. At length 
he sat down on the curbstone, completely 
fagged out. A man passing was attracted 
by the lad's unhappy appearance, and ask"d 
what was the matter. "Oh," was the reply 
this coon is such a trouble to me!' 'Why 
don't you get' rid of him then? 1 said the 
gentleman. 'Hush!' said the boy; 'don't you 
, see he is gnawing his rop'e off? I am going 
to let him do it, and- then I will go home 
and tell the folks that' ho got away from 
me. ■'. . "■ ,....- 

■ It. is said that Lincoln told the following 
' story about his. hair during a meeting of 
his cabinet; ."When I waa nominated at 
. Chicago, an enterprising fellow thought that 
, a. gceat many people would like to see how 
Abe Lincoln looked, and, as I had not long 
before sat for a. photograph, the fellow-hav-' 
mg- seen' it; rushed over and bought" the 
negative. He at once got out ho'' end of 
woodcuts, and so active was- their circula- 
.ti on, they were soon selling in all' parts of 
tlm ; country. Soon" after they reached 
Springfield I heard a boy crying them' for 
eale on the streets. 'Here's .your likeness 
.of Abe Lincoln!' he shouted. 'Buy one price 
two shillings! Will look a good deal better- 
When he gets his hair combed)'" -'-"•. .-"■'■"i 

i Responding to criticism for appointing a 
man, to office who had opposed his election, 
.lor' a second term, Lincoln replied - - "Well 
I; suppose Judge T., having been disappoint 
ed before, did behave pretty ugly, but that- 
wouldn't make him any less fit for the 
place; and I think I have scriptural author- 
ity for appointing him. You remember, 
.when the Lord was on Mount Sinai, getting 
out. a commission ' for Aaron, that same 
Aaron was at the foot of the mountain 
making a. false god for the people to wot- 
?" ] 'P- ..Yet Aaron got his commission, you 

The Great Emancipator Had a Rich Supply of Stories and 
Anecdotes WhicrrSeryed Hint Well In Meeting Problems 
of His Day arid the Arguments of Pleaders and Opponents 

ously forward, straining their eyes in every 
direction to catcli sight of the enemy; but 
he was not to be found! At last a happy 
idea seized the foremost one; he sprang to 
his companion and exclaimed, 'And sure, 
Jamie, It's my opinion it's nothing but a 

During the campaign of 1840 it :... 
charged by the Democrats' that the Whigs 
were lords and aristocrats. Lincoln, '..." 
was a Whig candidate for the Illinois legis- 
lature, squelched this charge with this amus- 
ing recital of— his boyhood:."! was a very 
poor boy. I hired out on a flatboat at eight 
dollars a month. I had only ono pair of 
breeches, and they were buckskin; and if 
you know tfie -nature of buckskin when wet, 
and dried by the sun— they shrink, and mine 
kept shrinking until they left several inches 
of my" legs bare between the tops of my 
socks and the lower part of my breeches; 
and whilst I was growing taller they were 
becoming shorter, and so much tighter that 
they' left a blue streak around my legs that 
can be seen to this day. If you call this 
aristocracy, I plead guilty to the charge." 

One day a farmer rushed into the Whiti 
House and demanded permission 1 to see the 
President at once, as lie had important busi- 
ness to transact. He complained to Mr. Lin- 
coln that Union soldiers in passing his place 
had taken his horse and some hay, and he 
wanted his claim given immediate consid- 
eration. The President smiled in his usual 
good-natured way, and replied: "Why, my 
good sir, if I should attempt to consider 
every such individual case . I should find 
work for twenty Presidents! In my early 
days I knew one, Jack Chase, who was a 
lumberman on the Illinois, and, when steady 
and sober, the best raftsman on the river. 
It was quite a trick twenty-five year ago 
to take the logs over the rapids, but he was 
skillful with a raft, and always kept her 
straight in the channel. Finally, a steamer 
was put on, and Jack— he's dead now, poor 
fellow— was made captain of her. He al- 
ways used to take the wheel going through 
the rapid. One day, when the boat was 
plunging and wallowing along the boiling 
current, and Jack's utmost vigilance was 
being exercised to keep her In the narrow 

him with, '.Say Mister Captain! I wish you 
would just stop the boat a minute— I've 
lost my apple overboard.'" ... , 


In 1862 quite a 1 number of-people thought 
Lincoln ought to fire the members of his 
cabinet and' got some new -blood; A half 

dozen of these know-it-alls had the hardi- 
hood to call on him and make that sugges- 
tion. Lincoln made answer by telling the 
story of the spotted animals: 

'Gentlemen, when I was a' young man I 
used to know very well "one Joe Wilson.'who 
built himself a log cabiil not very far from 
where I lived. Joe -was very, fond of eggs 
and chickens, and he took a good deal of 
pains -in fitting. .up a poultry shed.. Having 
at length gotten together a choice lot of 
young fowls— of which he was very proud- 
he began to be very much annoyed by the 
depredation of those little black and white 
spotted'aniraals; which it is:not necessary 

■name: .-One night Joe was awakened by 
unusual cackling and fluttering amonghis 
chickens. Getting up, he crept' out to- see 
what - was. going' on, , It was a moonlight 
night, and ho soon caught sight of half, a 
dozen of the little pests, which with their 
dam were. running, in and out ofthe shadow 
of the- shed. Very wrathy-Joe put a double 

charge in his old musket and thought he 
would clean out the whole tribe at one shot. 
Somehow he only killed one, and the" bal- 
ance scampered o'ff across the field. In tell- 
ing the story, Joe would alway pause here 
and hold his nose. 'Why didn't you follow 
them up and kill the rest?' inquired the 
neighbors. 'Blast it,' said Joe, "why it was 
eleven weeks before I got over killing' 
If you^want -any~more skirmishing in that 
line you can do it yourselves.'" * '■ lmff 
'<■ While Inspecting the Dutch Gap Canal at 
City Point, "Va. Lincoln turned to General 
Grant, and said: "Grant, do you know Vi' 
this reminds me of? Out In Springfield, 111.. 
tihere was a blacksmith who,' one day, not 
having 'much to do, .took, a piece of soft 
iron and attempted to weld it into an agri- 
cultural implement, but discovered that the 
E.'on -would not -hold out; then ho concluded 
it would make a claw-hammer, but, having 
too much iron, attempted to make an axe, 
but decided after working a while that 
there was not enough iron left. Finally, 
becoming disgusted," he rilled the forge full 
of coal and brought the iron to a white 
heat; then with his tongs he lifted it from 
the bed of coals, and, thrusting It into a 
tub of water nearby, exclaimed with an oath, 
■Well, If I can't make anything out of you. 
I will make a fizzle, anyhow.' I am afraid 
that Is about what we have done with the 
Dutch Gap Canal." " ' 


-This "boil" story wad told to Postmaster 
General- Blair by Lincoln: 

' "Blair, did you know that fright lias 
sometimes proven a cure for boils? Not long 
ago, when Colonel — — , with bis cavalry, was 
at the front and the -Rebs were -making' 
things' rather lively for us, the Colonel was 
ordered, out to. a reconnoissance. He w 
troubled all the time with a big boil where 
it made horseback' riding decidedly uncom- 
fortable. He finally dismounted and- or- 
dered the troops forward without him. Soon 
he was startled by the rapid reports of 
pistols, and the helter-skelter approach of 
ids troops in full retreat before a yelling 
rebel force. He forgot everything but .the 
yells, sprang into the saddle, and made capi- 
pai time, over the fences and ditches till safe 
within the lines. The pain €rom the boil 
ivas gone, and the boil, too, and the Colonel 
Ewpre that there was no cure for boils su 
sure as fright from rebel yells." 

The following story fas told by . Lincoln 
by way of illustrating the existing breach 
between the Northern and Southern wings 
of the Democratic party: "I once knew a 
sound churchman by the name of Brown, 
who was a member of a very sober'and pious 
committee having in charge the erection of 
a bridge over a dangerous and rapid river. 
Several architects failed, and-at last Brown 
said he had a friend named Jones who' had 
built' several bridges and undoubtedly could 
build that one. So Mr. Jones was called 
'Can you build this bridge?' inquired tho 
imittee.'v 'Yes,' replied Jones,- 'or any 
other. I could build a bridge to the Infernal 
regions, if necessary I' The committee were 
shocked, and. Brown felt called upon to de- 
fend, his friend. T know Jones so. well,' said 
he,- 'and he is so honest a man and so good 
an. architect, that if he states soberly and 
positively that he can. build a bridge- to — 
, why, I believe It; but I feel bound to 
say that I have my doubts about the abut 
t on the infernal- side.' So, when the 
politicians told me that the Northern and 
Southern wings of Democracy could, be har/- 

lonized, why,'! believed them, of • course; 


Lincoln told this story to an artist. who 
iyas painting his picture at' the White 
House: "Some years ago a couple of emi- 
grants fresh from the Emerald Isle, seek- 
ing labor, were making their way toward 
the West. Coming suddenly, one evening, 
upon a pond of water, they were greeted 
by a grand chorus of bullfrogs— a kind of 
music they had never heard before. 'B-a-u-m' 
— 'B-a-u-m!' Overcome with terror, they 
clutched their 'shlllalnhs' and crept cauti- 


A young lawyer came to Lincoln for ad- 
vice in' conducting bis practice. He was 
told: "Billy, don't shoot too high— aim 
lower and common people will understand 
you. They are the ones you want to reach 
—at least, they are the ones you ought to 
reach. .The educated and refined people 
will understand you, anyway, if you aim 
too high, your Idea will go over:the heads' 
of the masses and only hit those who need'- 
no hitting." ■ ■ • ' .'"'■'■ 

Replying in the campaign of 1852 to Doug- 
las, who dwelt strongly on his confidence' 
In Providence, Lincoln said: "Let us stand- 
by our .candidate, General Scott, as faith- 
fully as he has always stood by our country, 
and I ".much doubt if we do not' .""perceive' a* 
slight abatement of Judge Douglas' confi- 
dence in Providence as well as the people. 
I suspect -that confidence is not more firmly 
fixed with the judge than it was with the' 
old woman whose horse ran away with her 
in a buggy. She said she ■trusted in Provi- 
dence till the britchen broke' and then she 
'didn't know what on airtli to ' do.' The 
chance is. -the Judge will see the britchen" 
broke, and then he can, at his leisure, be- 
wail the fate of Locofocoism as the victim 
of misplaced confidence." '.-;■'■ - 


(Continued from' page 3) .-■" % 

and in a few years it became .evident to' 
.slavqcracy that, if it desired to continue to 
hold, an equal balance of power In the 
United States Senate something more must 
be done. The Missouri compromise of lS2i\, 
of course, stood in the way and thirty years 
after this law had been hailed as a final 
solution of the slavery question a movement 
was set on foot in the South to bring about 
its nullification so that more slave states 
might be carved out of the west. 

Early in the fifties a movement was In- 
augurated in Missouri which had for its 
purpose the carrying of slavery mto the 
territory of Nebraska. This movement bore 
fruit in 1854 when Senator Stephen A. 'Doug- 
las, Democrat, of Illinois, introduced .a bill, 
designing to divide the territory of- -Ne- 
braska in two_ parts, the. .southern part to.- 
oe known as Kansas. This proposed Jegis-- 
lation became known as the Kansas-Ne- 
braska bill and it provided that the settlers, - 
in the two territories should have the right 
to decide whether or not they would' have 
slavery, . 

The bill was passed by Congress after, 
heated debate, and it, of course, set aside 
the. Missouri compromise, because the terri- 
tory was north of the no-slavery line "pro- \ 
vided for in the compromise of 1820.' . . ^ 
. Immediately there started a desperate 
struggle between. the slave forces and the 
freemen for the possession of Kansas, Slave 
holders from Missouri;, armed with guns, 
crossed into the hew territory and seized 
lands and soon the New England states sent, 
free settlers to checkmate them. The terri- 
tory was .torn, by cruel guerilla warfare for 
the- next five or six years and the outrages, 
which were committed by the "Border Rut. 
flans" during this time form a dark page in 
the history of American development; In 
the end the Free-state men won and Kansas, 
was admitted to the Union a commonwealth 
opposed to slavery. ■ . ' - 
Tho repudiation of the Missouri com-'' 
romise by the passage of the. Kansas-' 
Nebraska bill and the border warfare which', 
followed sent a tremendous wave of indigna-' 
tion through the North and : anti-slavery 
-mtiment grew by leaps and. bounds:- It- . 

as felt that the end of compromise-, was', 
reached.. Each arrangement made with the 
slavocracy. had been repudiated in turn and; 
a new arrangement entered into more fa---' 
vorable. to tiie slave power; 1 because of the 
threat- of -secession" which' was'- continually • 
held, by tlie Southern states over the- na- 1 
t ion. . .. ■■ - :--"-'. 

. People in the North' wpro beginning to ■ 
believe that, the time was- at hand for a 
showdown. ..The' Whig party because of its : 
compromising policies was in the throes' 
of dissolution and the Democratic organiza- 
tion, was. firmly in the'-grip of the- South. - 
People on every -hand commenced to say-, 
that the time was ripe fur a new party, one 
which would have for it's purpose the pres- ' 
ervation of tile Constitution and the Union, 
and tlie prevention of any further encroach- 
Brents by tlie slave power on free soil. 
-■ That new organization, as later events 
proved, was to be tlie Republican party 
Which was to produce in the hour of the- 
nation's greatest peril a man to save Amer- 
ican constitutional government— and that 
man was Abraham Lincoln. 

i (To Be Continued.) 

y Harris 
Friend and Prolific Modern Story-Te) 
. Lincoln, Son. of President Lincoln 

Except a living man, there is nothing 
more wonderful than a book. A message to 
us from the dead, from human souls whom 
we never 'saw, who lived perhaps thousands 
of miles away; and yet these, on those little 
sheets of paper, speak to us, amuse us, vivify 
its, comfort us, open their hearts to us as 
brothers.— Kingsley. 

I ' 



Lincoln*! Keen Seri^/ ' 
! of Humor Endeared 
ti" /^im to CoMntrymen brok -- v . 

* v Ttys Is a tribute to Abraham Lin- Lp h , s mnat , 
cobys sense of humor. Because he 
was a great American, Americans hon- 
or his memory each year by observing 
his birthday as a legal holiday. Be- 
cause he was one of its greatest Pres- 
idents, the country has preserved his 
name and his fame by erecting an Im- 
posing memorial in the national capi- 
tal, writes Marjorie Elaine Porter in 
the Detroit News. 

Because he was intellectually great, 
the work of his pen still lives In our 
educational Institutions, where his 
speeches are studied as examples of 
the finest and purest of English prose. 
Because of his undying patriotism, he 
Is revered; because of his noble man- 
hood, he Is respected; because of his 
remarkable attainments, he is ad- 
mired; but because of his sense* of 
humor, he is beloved, and endeared 
to the hearts of his countrymen as a 
man, who with all his greatness was 
human enough to tell a good Joke or 
to laugh at one. 

Indeed Lincoln could tell good Jokes, 
and he seemed to have an Inexhaust- 
ible supply at his command. There 
are volumes of them now published 
which prove amusing and profitable 
reading matter. But Lincoln's "jokes" 
consisted of more than mere comedy. 
They were generally told for some pur- 
pose — to clinch an argument, prove 
a statement, or point out a moral. 
Method In His Humor. . 

In many a trying crisis he showed 
himself to be master of the situation 
by relating some humorous anecdote 
that helped to carry his point and 
swing sentiment in favor of the cause 
he espoused. Under the stress of emo- 
tion or excitement, he relieved the 
strain of his nerves by giving vent to 
his irresistible sense of humor In 
telling some funny story. When he 
was waiting for the returns from the 
Republican convention in Chicago In 
1860, he was under great nervous ten- 
sion, but he amused himself and en- 
tertained the staff of the Springfield 
Journal by telling one good one after 
another, until he received the telegram 
announcing his nomination. 

There was never a time, his biog- 
raphers claim, when Abe Lincoln was 
too grave or too melancholy- to fall 
to see the humor of a situation. Even 
at times when he seemed most care- 
worn, and weighed down by the great 
problems and responsibilities with 
which he was struggling, he would sud- 
denly chuckle to himself, a twinkle 
would come into his eyes, and he was 
"reminded" of some anecdote that ap- 
plied to the case in question. 

"I was never fined for contempt of 
court but once." a clerk of the court 
in Lincoln's time says, "Davis fined 
me $5. Mr. Lincoln had Just come in, 
and leaning over my desk, had told 
me a story so irresistibly funny that 
Into a loud laugh. The 
me to order, saying, 
This must be stopped, Mr. Lincoln, 
you are constantly disturbing this 
court with your stories.' Then to me: 
'You may fine yourself $5!' I apolo- 
gized, but told the judge the story was 
worth the money. 

"In a few minutesi the judge 
called me to him. 'What was the 
story that Lincoln told you?' he asked. 
I told him, and he laughed aloud In 
spit of himself. 'Remit your fine,' he 

Had to Laugh Occasionally. 

On one occasion it is told of how 
a very sad and solemn member of 
congress paid a visit to President Lin- 
coln at the White House during one 
of the darkest periods of the Clvlj 
war. The member seemed deeply de- 
pressed. So did the President, who 
nevertheless found his sense of humor 
sufficiently active to think of a funny 
story. He began to tell It when he 
was Interrupted by the member, who 
said he was there on important nation- 
al business and not to hear funny 

Mr. Lincoln, it Is recorded, looked 
hurt, the twinkle departed from his 
eye, but he motioned 1 the member to 
a chair, and said, "Sit down, sit down, 
and let me explain. I have the very 
highest respect for you, and a regard 
not much less than your own, I guess, 
for the nation at large ; but If I didn't 
get a chance to laugh sometimes I'd 
die in my tracks. I can be as seri- 
ous as you are, but not all the time. 
Which reminds me ," and he con- 
cluded with the story he had begun. 
There were others,, too, who did 
not seem to understand that Lincoln's 
sense of humor was not only a strong 
stimulant for him in times of stress, 
but that it was also a powerful weapon 
with which he attacked his enemies 
or defended his cause. On one occa- 
sion when a major who was calling 
on the President with Col. Silas W. 
Burt, remarked, "Now, Mr. President! 
tell us one of your good stories," with 
particular emphasis on the "good." 
Mr. Lincoln defended his reputation 
as a story teller, by saying: 
Always Had a Purpose. 

"I believe I have the popular repu- 
tation of being a story-teller, but I do 
not deserve the name In its general 
sense, for It is not the story Itself, 
but its purpose or effect that interests 
me. I often avoid a long and useless 
discussion by others, or a laborious ex- 
planation on my own part, by a short 
story that illustrates my point of view. 

So, too, the sharpness of a refusal or" 
the edge of a rebuke may be blunted 
by an appropriate story so as to save 
wounded feelings and yet serve the 
purpose. No, I am not simply a story- 
teller, but story-telling as an emollient 
saves me much friction and distress." 
Nevertheless he was fond of telling 
a good story for Its own sake, as this 
little- Incident related of him shows. 

Profoundly Melancholy, His Humor 
t Mainly a Relief From His 
Natural Moodiness 

<3«*alov. K *ajX V 

^j, - I <tT-¥ 

By Henry W. Lawrence, Jrv Ph. D. 

Professor of History' and Political 

Science In Connecticut College 

' Lincoln was in fact a profoundly 
melancholy man. 

His never-failing humor in com- 
pany was partly a disguise, but main- 
ly a relief from his natural moodi- 

His eagerness for a joke, even in 
the midst of tragedy, sometimes 
gave offence. > 

On one occasion a noted Con- 
gressman called on him shortly after 
a disaster in the Civil war. Lincoln 
began to tell a story. 

The Congressman jumped up and 
exclaimed, "Mr. President, I did not 
come here this morning to hear 
lories. It is too serious a timet" 
Lincoln's face changed. "Ashley," 
said he,. "sit down! 

"You cannot be more anxious than 
I have been constantly since the be- 
ginning of the war; and I say to you 
now that were it not for this occa- 
sional vent I should die." 

Lincoln was careful to protect his 
country against her enemies, but he 
was almost utterly careless about 
protecting himself against either ene- 
mies of friends. 

He frequently exposed himself to 
not improbable attempts at assassina- 
tion. Though persuaded to accept 
an escoft when driving to and fro be- 
tween Washington and his summer 
residence at the Soldiers' Home, he 
would sometimes give it the slip and 
make the journey on horseback 

In August of 1862, on one of 
these solitary rides, his life was at- 
tempted. It was about 11 at night; 
he was "jogging along at a slow gait, 
immersed in deep thought," when 
someone fired a rifle from near at 

Lincoln described jocosely how his 
horse "gave proof of decided dissat- 
isfaction at the racket, and with one 
reckless bound he unceremoniously 
separated me from my $8 plug hat.' 

Lincoln's Desire to Pardon AD 

All things considered, however, his 
Jfe was probably rnore endangered by 
Ihe excruciating keenness of his sym- 
pathy with the sufferings caused by the 
(ear. On hearing that two' sons of an 
>ld fi-lend were desperately wounded 
ind would probably die, he broke out 
vith: "Here, now, are these dear brava 
Doys killed In this cursed war. My 
Sod! My Ood! It Is, too bad! They 
forked hard to earn money to educate 
themselves", and this Is the endl I loved 
^;hem as If they were my own." • 

Then, too, there was the. unceasing 
lorture of withholding pardons that he 
on red to grant. The American soldier 
lid. not take naturally to discipline. 
Death sentences, chiefly for desertion 
>r for sleeping or other negligence on 
,:he part of sentries, were continually 
Jielng passed by courts-martial. These 
jsed to come before the President on a 
Itated day of the week, of which Un- 
join would often speak with horror. 
He was always being appealed to in 
relation to such sentences by the father 
tr mother of the culprit or some friend, 
it one time, It -may be, he was too 
ready with pardon. '"You do not know," 
ke said, "how hard It is to let a human 
>elng die, when you feel that a strr "e 
»f your pen will save him." The im- 
port of the numberless pardon stories 
really Is that he would spare himself 
io trouble to Inquire, and to Intervene 
whenever he could rightly follow his 
ncllnatlon toward clemency. A Con- 
rressman might force his way Into his 
ledroom In the middle of the night, 
loUse him from his sleep to bring to 
Us notice extenuating facts that had 
been overlooked, and receive the de- 
sislon. "Well. I don't see that It will do 
»lm any good to be shot" These ex- 
periences told on Lincoln's strength 
rery noticeably, and his friends often 
tried to persuade him to spare hlmseir 
luch harrowing Interviews. They never 
mcceeded, however. He told them he 
:ould not forget what he himself would 
feel In the place of the many poor souls 
whose agonies of Intercession he shared. 

Mercy With Shrewdness 

Gensral Butler used to writ* to him 
that he was destroying the discipline 
)f the army, and other generals were 
iften enraged by his refusal to carry 
»ut their decisions. "General," said he 
» one of these, "there are too many 
seeping widows in the United States 
low. For God's sake don't ask me to 
*dd to the number, for I tell you plainly 
t won't do It." Here kindness waa 
Mended with statecraft, merer with 

The generals could not grasp ths poll- 
Seal side of war. Lincoln tried to make 
Ihem see that they were dealing with 
in untrained people. Intensely sensitive 
lo the value of human life, Impulsive, 
lulck to forget offences, ultra-conslder- 
tte of youth and Its rashness. What- 
ever else the President did, he 'must 
tot allow the country to think of the 
irmy as an ogre devouring Its sons 
•ecause of technicalities. The generals 
law only the discipline, the morale bt 
;he soldiers; the President saw the far 
nore difficult matter, the discipline and 
ihe morale of the cltlsens. 

More than any other of our presidents, 
losslbly excepting Andrew Jackson, 
Lincoln represented the plain people. 
In a. peculiar sense, his government and 
Ms life were of the people, for the peo- 
ple, and by the people. He was below 
Ihem In his origin. Hts parents started 
their married life in a shanty 14 feet 

wuare. His father was a shiftless Tel- 
tow, never succeeding at anything, 
triable either to read or to wirite. Of 
Is mother President Lincoln said, "I 
►we everything that I am to her;" yet 
be believed her to be the Illegitimate 
laughter of an unknown father, and 
fhe died In the floorless, doorless fron- 
tier cabin beforo her son was 10 years 

Vindictive PoUtldana 

It was distinctly for the people that 
M spent his life, and theirs, In the 
ieart-breaklng struggle against seces- 
sion.. Not to abolish slavery, but to 
lave the Union, waa his chief aim. And 
£hy was he so frantlo to save the 
union? Precisely because It was the 
»ne great and hopeful experiment In 
lemocratlo government which all the 
frorld was watching, and which (In his 
iwn words) "gave promise that In due 
time the weights would be lifted from 
Ihe shoulders of all men and that all 
(hould have an equal chance." 

K was by these ssms plain people 
that he saved ths TJnlon. whHo defeat- 
teg the timid, treacherous, vacillating 

[and vindictive politicians. When Ms 
re-election to the presidency seemed 
highly uncertain, one of his secretaries, 
the later celebrated John Hay, wrote: 
"I do not know whether the nation Is 
worthy of him for another term. I 
know the people want him. There Is no 
mistaking that fact. 

"But the politicians are strong yet. 
and he Is not their 'kind of a cat.' " The 
nation did prove worthy of him, how- 
i ever; and this was largely because It* 
; had given the common people a chance 
to get acquainted with him and his poli- 
cies. He reached them In three ways: 
through his general receptions, which 
anyone might attend; through the open- 
door policy of his office, to which all 
the world was permitted access; and 
through his visits to the army. Many 
thousands of men and women, in one or 
another of these ways, met the Presi- 
dent face to face, often In the high sus- 
ceptibility of Intense woe. and carried 
away an Impression which was Imme- 
diately .circulated among all their ac- 

"I Wf1! Support You" 

It would be Impossible to exaggerate 
the grotesque miscellany of the streams 
of people flowing ever In and out of the 
President's open doors. One day a larg-e 
fleshy man, of a stern but homely coun- 
tenance and a solemn and dignified car- 
riage, Immaculate dress — swallow-tall 
coat, ruffled shirt of faultless fabric, 
white cravat and orange colored gloves 
—entered with the throng. Looking at 
him, Lincoln was somewhat appalled. He 
expected some formidable demand. To 
his relief, the Imposing stranger deliv- 
ered a brief harangue on the President's 
policy, closing with, "I have watched 
you narrowly ever since your Inaugura- 
tion. . . . As one of your constitu- 
ents, I now say to you, do In the future 
as you damn please, and I will support 
you." "Sit down, my friend." said Lin- 
coln, "sit down. I am delighted to see 
you. Lunch with us today. Yes, you 
must stay and lunch with us. my friend, 
for I have not s«>en enough of you yet." 
There were many of these Informal' am- 
bassadors of the people assur'ng the 
President of popular support. And this 
florid gentleman was not the only one 
who lunched with the President on first 

When no one was lunching with him. 
and Mrs. Lincoln happened to be away, 
the chances were about even that he 
wouldn't bother to have any lunch. 

Instead, he might do what he called 
"browsing around." But when his better 
(or at least more regular) half was 
present. If the President's home llf° 
were not run according to schedule. It 
was not her fault. One day the luncheon 
hour arrived In the midst of an Im- ! 
portant conference / with high officials, 
presently a servant appeared reminding 
Mr. Lincoln of the hour, but he took 
no notice. Another summons, and again 




Biographer Thinks Dr. Brill 

Erred in Saying He Was Fond 

of Racy Stories. 

Ida M. Tarbell, author and editor 
who has written several books on 
Abraham Lincoln, says she has never 
been able "to trace to him with evi- 
dence worth accepting a story I could 
not repeat to a decent-minded listen- 
er." Miss Tarbell has written /or the 
Associated Press the following com- 
ment on a speech Friday by Dr. A. A. 
Brill in Toronto, in which the New 
York psychoanalyst called Lincoln a 
'schizoid manic personality." Dr. 
Brill found a trace of dual personality 
.in a reputed tendency to tell off-color 


Copyright. 1931, by Associated Press. 
NEW YORK, June 6.— Dr. A. A. 
Brill's paper on Abraham Lincoln as a 
humorist is less fci-midable in its ter- 
minology and connotations than we 
usually get from scientific gentlemen. 
It is lively, interesting and understand- 
able. I am not a psychiatrist, so not 
~>rnpetent to deal with his interpreta- 
s of evidence, but as a long stand- 
student of Lincoln's life I certainly 
ild qualify somewhat certain evi- 
ce on which he depends. Take the 

question of the character of the stories 
Lincoln told. Were they obscene? Dr. 
Brill is right in saying that at the worst 
they were extremely tame in compari- 
son to what we hear nowadays on I 
the stage and in the drawing rooms. 

His stories undoubtedly were the type 
told in his time in the primitive and 
rather gross society from which he 
had sprung. That should be expected. 
Not Easy to Change. 

Probably they changed little through- 
out his life the Lincoln was never really 
at home in a society which had been 
subjected to the restraint and refine- 
ments imposed by what we call cultiva- 
tion. . He was too natural and hones: 
a human being easily to curb his tongue 
or change his ways. 

It should be remembered, too, that 
in the Civil war it was the habit to 
tack his name on to all kinds of jokes 
and stories, even to publish collections 
.gathered from right and left under the 
name of "Old Abe." 

I have never been able to trace to 
him with evidence worth accepting a 
story I could not repeat to a decent- 
1 minded listener. I think it quite pos- 
sible that when Dr. Holland said the 
whole West was full of his gross stories 
he was really saying that every ancient 
and obscene yarn retold was begun, to 
give it freshness— -Here's a new Lincoln 
story." it is a common enough habit. 

I have sometimes suspected, too, that 
those who insisted on his grossness j 
might have been finding what they 
looked for^-and enjoyed— that it was 
rather their obscenity than his that was 
behind the story. 

Father Not So Worthless. 

There is another bit of evidence that 
Dr. Brill uses which needs qualification. 
In talking of Lincoln's father, Tom, he 
overlooks as did Senator Beveridge, his 
chief authority, the rather extensive 
documentary evidence collected and 
published by Dr. Louis Warren proving 
that Tom Lincoln was neither as illiter- 
ate or shiftless as most of his biogra- 
phers would like to have us believe, a 
literary device to throw his son's great- 
ness into still higher light, making him 
more of a "mystery." 

Dr. Brill calls attention to Lincoln's 
refusal to visit his father in what 
proved to be his last illness, but he 
does nqt give the real reason. It was 
a good reason, all those who knew his 
wife, Mary Lincoln, and her ways 
agree. She was having a baby and 
would not allow Mr. Lincoln out of her 
sight; particularly would she have made 
it difficult for him to go to his father, 
for she detested the family, always ob- 
jected to his seeing or helping them. 

However, Dr. Brill has written a 
•areful and interesting paper and, best 
•jf all, provocative. 

Jrill's Analysis Unfair, 

So Or. Moreno Alleges 

By Science Service. 

TORONTO, June 6.— Agitation in 
psychiatric circles over Dr. A. A. Brill's 
psychoanalytic interpretation of Abra- 
ham Lincoln continues. Dr. J. T. Mo- 
reno of New York, has offered his own 
interpretation of Lincoln's personality. 

Dr. Moreno protests strongly that it 
is unfair for a psychiatrist to analyze 
the character of a man now dead. 

"Something is fundamentally .wrong 
with the theory of psychoanalysis," Dr. 
Moreno said, "and the more unusual the 
personality, the more dangerous it is to 
apply the accepted formula as valid." 

Most of the membership of the Amer- 
ican Psychiatric association accepted 
Dr. Brill's carefully prepared study of 
Lincoln as a scientific contribution of 


Bulletin of the Lincoln National Life Foundation -------- Dr. Louis A. Warren, Editor. 

Published each week by The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, of Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

Number 394 


October 26, 1936 


One who has a sense of humor approaches the Hallow- 
een season in the spirit of pleasantry. Lincoln's drollery 
which found expression in both his speeches and writings 
can be reviewed with interest during this period of gaiety. 

Long Black Fellow 
Lincoln often drew caricature word portraits of him- 
self and was not in the least bit sensitive about his homely 
appearance. He had occasion once, in writing to a former 
acquaintance, to identify himself and used this interesting 
description: "Don't you remember a long black fellow 
who rode on horseback with you from Tremont to Spring- 
field nearly ten years ago, swimming our horses over the 
Mackinaw on the trip? Well, I am that same one fellow 

Changing Coats 
In attempting to show that the two major political 
parties have completely changed their opinions on some 
of the major political issues of the day, Lincoln wrote to 
a group of Boston citizens in charge of the Jefferson 
celebration in Boston as follows : "I remember being once 
much amused at seeing two partially intoxicated men en- 
gaged in a fight with their great-coats on, which fight, 
after a long and rather harmless contest, ended in each 
having fought himself out of his own coat and into that 
of the other. If the two leading parties of this day are 
really identical with the two in the days of Jefferson and 
Adams, they have performed the same feat as the two 
drunken men." 

Accomplishing the Impossible 
While delivering a speech in Congress on internal im- 
provements, Lincoln illustrated the absurdity of a project 
by calling attention to the predicament of Patrick, who / 
remarked about his new boots, "I shall never get 'em on, ^ 
'til I wear 'em a day or two, and stretch 'em a little." 

All Things to All Men 
On Lincoln's first visit to New England, he had occa- 
sion to mention the lack of specific statements in a newly 
organized political party's platform. He likened their / 
position to a pair of pantaloons the Yankee peddler of- jf 
fered for sale, "Large enough for any man, small enough 
for any boy." 

Second Fiddle 
Baker, a Whig contemporary of Lincoln's, secured an 
appointment, which Lincoln wanted for himself and when 
he. was chosen a delegate to work for Baker's election, 
Lincoln wrote to his friend Speed, "In getting Baker the 
nomination, I shall be fixed a good deal like a fellow who 
is made a groomsman to a man that has cut him out and 
is marrying his own dear 'gal'." 

Delayed Judgment 
A temperance address gave Lincoln an opportunity to 
illustrate the subject of threats and promises with thib 

typical Irish story: "Better lay down that spade you are 
stealing, Paddy, if you don't you'll pay for it at the day 
of judgment." Paddy, "By the power, if yell credit me so 
long I'll jist take another." 

Itching Heels 
In his sub-treasury speech made in Springfield in 1839, 
Lincoln felt that some of his political opponents were 
running away with the public funds. Although they 
claimed to be "sound in the head and the heart, but vul- 
nerable in the heel," Lincoln admitted that the last claim 
was literally true and that, "this malady of 'running itch' 
in the heel, operated very much like the cork leg in the 
comic song did on its owner, which when he had once got 
started on it, the more he tried to stop it, the more it 
would run away." 

Safety in Distance 
A young man anxious to enter the military academy to 
which there was some family objection, received this 
written advice from Lincoln: "I think perhaps it might 
be wise to hand this letter from me, in to your good uncle 
through his room window after he has had a comfortable 
dinner, and watch its effect from the top of the pigeon 

A Russian Bear 
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates resulted in some interest- 
ing illustrations of repartee, one of which follows : "Just 
to think of it! Right at the outset of his canvass, I, a 
poor, kind, amiable, intelligent gentleman — I am to be 
slain in this way. Why, my friend the judge, is not only, 
as it turns out, not a dead lion, nor even a living one — he 
is the rugged Russian bear." 

Wicked Chicago 
In reply to a Chicago clergyman who came to Mr. 
Lincoln, stating that a message had come from his Divine 
Master commanding the President to free the slaves at 
once, Lincoln replied, "Well, now that's queer, I have been 
waiting a long time for that message. Don't you think it 
is rather strange that the Divine Master should have sent 
it around by way of wicked Chicago?" 

Presidential Timber 
The address which Abraham Lincoln made in the House 
of Representatives on July 27, 1848, contains more ludi- 
crous similes and comparisons, than any other speech he 
ever delivered. In attempting to show that his political 
opponents had attempted to make all their presidential 
aspirants after the pattern of one of their early cham- 
pions, he tells this story: 

"A fellow once advertised that he had made a discovery 
by which he could make a new man out of an old one, and 
have enough of the stuff left to make a little yellow dog. 
Just such a discovery has General Jackson's popularity 
been to you. You not only twice made President of him 
out of it, but you have had enough of the stuff left to make 
Presidents of several comparatively small men since." 




Copyright, 1937 

The Lincoln National 

Life Insurance 


Little Known Lincoln Humor 

By Louis A. Warren, Lift. D. 

Director Emeritus, The Lincoln National Life Foundation 

IINCOLN'S fame as a humorist has been established largely by 
* his ability to draw upon an inexhaustible store of anecdotes 
for illustrative purposes; but he was more than a story-teller. He 
was endowed naturally with a sense of humor which often found 
expression in tense and serious situations. This collection of au- 
thentic incidents in Lincoln's life is not a book of jokes, but a com- 
pilation of little-known episodes which reveal those deep-seated 
impulses accounting for Lincoln's quaint and pleasing humor. 

Quizzing a Prospective Doorkeeper 

A MONG the horde of applicants for patronage who advanced 
■Ly. upon the White House, there were those who were seeking 
some of the most unimportant occupations about the capitol. 
They seemed to think that it was necessary to see the President 
himself about the positions they desired and in the midst of 
serious duties Lincoln was often bothered by their trivial requests. 

There came to the Executive Mansion one day, an applicant 
for doorkeeper to the House. He happened to be one of those im- 
possible individuals who would not fit into a place where any 
responsibility whatever would be involved, and Lincoln im- 
mediately began to plan his dismissal in as kindly a manner as 
possible. The conversation which followed was something like 

"So you want to be doorkeeper to the House, eh?" 

"Yes, Mr. President." 


"Well have you ever been a doorkeeper? Have you ever had 
any experience in doorkeeping?" 

"Well, no — no actual experience, sir." 

"Any theoretical experience? Any instructions in the duties 
and ethics of doorkeeping?" 

"Um — no." 

"Have you ever attended lectures on doorkeeping?" 

"No, sir." 

"Have you read any textbooks on the subject?" 


"Have you conversed with anyone who has read such a book?" 


"Well then, my friend, don't you see that you haven't a single 
qualification for this important post?" said Lincoln, in a re- 
proachful tone. 

"Yes, I do," said the applicant, and he took leave humbly, 
almost gratefully. 

An Offended God and a Lightning Rod 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN made his first political speech in 
- Springfield, Illinois, and had as an opponent on the platform 
George Forquer, who, having recently changed his politics, se- 
cured a lucrative government appointment. Forquer's home had 
been equipped with lightning rods, the first in the city, and 
Lincoln had observed this new improvement on the way to the 
political meeting. 

Representatives of both parties spoke in turn from the same 
platform, and it fell to the task of Forquer to answer Lincoln. 
He opened his remarks by saying "This young man must be taken 


down, and I am truly sorry that the task devolves upon me." 
With a show of egotism and superiority he attacked Lincoln with 
a line of sarcasm for which he was famous, and concluded by rid- 
iculing Lincoln's appearance as well as his arguments. 

Lincoln did not seem to be greatly offended by the discour- 
teous remarks, but as soon as Forquer had closed and the oppor- 
tunity to reply was given, he went to the platform, answered the 
arguments of his opponent, and then closed with this statement: 
"The gentleman commenced his speech by saying that 'this 
young man,' alluding to me, 'must be taken down.' I am not so 
young in years as I am in the tricks and trades of a politician, but," 
said he, pointing to Forquer, "live long or die young, I would 
rather die now than, like the gentleman, change my politics and 
with the change receive an office worth three thousand dollars a 
year, and then feel obliged to erect a lightning rod over my house 
to protect a guilty conscience from an offended God." 

An Itemized Appraisal 

A LETTER of inquiry which Lincoln received about the finan- 
cial status of a ne'er-do-well was answered as follows: 

"Yours of the ioth received. First of all, he has a wife and 
baby; together they ought to be worth $500,000 to any man. 
Secondly, he has an office in which there is a table worth $1.50 
and three chairs worth, say, $1. Last of all, there is in one cor- 
ner a large rat-hole which will bear looking into." 

A Saucy Little Woman 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, by virtue of his office as President, 
/A. became Commander in Chief of the Nation's military forces. 
Even in the serious business of issuing orders in the grim struggle 
which followed there was occasionally a bit of humor expressed. 


Pressure was often brought to bear upon him to make certain 
military appointments and promotions, so that he was ever be- 
sieged with all kinds of requests. One day the wife of an officer 
appeared on behalf of her husband with a vigorous appeal for his 
promotion to brigadier-general. She became very insistent in her 
demands which finally resulted in Lincoln's sending a note to 
Secretary of War Stanton, with this comment: "Hon. Secretary 

of War: On this day, Mrs called upon me. She is the 

wife of Major of the regular army. She wants her 

husband made a brigadier-general. She is a saucy little woman 
and I think she will torment me until I have to do it." 

No Vices — No Virtues 

LINCOLN'S lone companion in a stagecoach leaving Spring- 
J field, Illinois, for Indiana early one morning was a Ken- 
tuckian, unknown to Lincoln, on his way home from a visit in 
the West. After they had traveled a short distance the stranger 
offered Lincoln a chew of a tobacco twist. "No, sir, thank you, 
I never chew," Lincoln said. Later in the morning, the gentleman 
took from his pocket a fine leather case, which he opened, and 
offered Lincoln a cigar. This also Lincoln politely declined, re- 
marking at the same time that he never smoked. 

The day wore on, and as they neared the stage station where 
a stop was to be made for dinner, the Kentuckian took a flask 
from his satchel with the remark, "Well stranger, seeing you do 
not smoke or chew, perhaps you'll take a little French brandy. 
It's a fine article and a good appetizer, besides." Lincoln found 
it necessary to decline this last best evidence of Kentucky hos- 
pitality on the same ground that had caused him to reject the 

That evening when they reached a point where they made 
connections for different stages, the Kentuckian shook Lincoln 
warmly by the hand. "See here, stranger," he said, good humor- 


edly, "you're a clever, but strange companion. I may never see 
you again, and I don't want to offend you, but I want to say this: 
my experience has taught me that a man who has no vices has 
blamed few virtues! Good-day." 

Lincoln, many times in his career, when he was invited to 
accept tokens of hospitality in which he did not indulge, would 
refer with much merriment to his Kentucky friend, with some 
statement about the stranger hitting the nail on the head. 

A Small "Nubbin" 

Lincoln once had an appointment to meet a committee of 
which Alexander Stephens was a member. It was a raw spring 
day, and Stephens, a very small man, was wearing several extra 
wraps when he arrived. Lincoln observed him in the process of 
removing several coats and after the last overcoat had been re- 
moved the President said to Secretary Seward "Well, I lived in a 
corn country all my life, but I never saw before so many husks 
for such a little nubbin." 

A Prospective Vice President Humiliated 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S name was before the first National 
l\. Republican Convention as a candidate for the nomination of 
Vice President of the United States. The convention assembled at 
Philadelphia in June 1856. At this time Lincoln was in attend- 
ance at a special term of the Champaign Circuit Court which 
began at Urbana on Tuesday, June 17, with Judge Davis on the 
bench. The judge and a few of the lawyers were putting up at a 
hotel where the landlady summoned them to breakfast by the 
ringing of a loud bell. The men thought they were being aroused 
too early, so they decided to get possession of the bell and con- 


ceal it during the term of court. By a majority vote, Lincoln was 
chosen to carry out the decree about removing the bell. 

On the morning the decision was made, a little earlier than 
usual, just before noon, Lincoln was seen to leave the courtroom. 
This indicated to the other members of the bar that he was going 
to fulfill his assignment. He hastened to the hotel, and as soon 
as an opportunity presented itself, slipped unobserved into the 
dining room and secreted the bell under his coat. He was just in 
the act of making off with the bell when Judge Davis and Law- 
yer Whitney, two of the conspirators, came into the hotel, the 
former holding in his hand a copy of the Chicago Tribune which 
had just reached town. It contained the news that Abraham 
Lincoln had received no votes (not enough for election) as a 
nominee for Vice President at the Philadelphia convention. 

"Great business this," chuckled Davis, slyly calling attention 
to Lincoln's bulging coat, "for a man who aspires to be Vice- 
President of the United States." Lincoln only smiled as he still 
tried to keep the breakfast bell concealed and remarked with 
reference to the Philadelphia vote: "Surely it ain't me; there's a 
great man named Lincoln down in Massachusetts; I reckon it's 

Don't Shoot 

THE Secretary of War was continually complaining about 
Lincoln's weakness in granting pardons and showing clem- 
ency when the lives of condemned men were at stake. Even here 
we find occasionally an order similar to this one: "Colonel 
Mulligan: If you haven't shot Barney D — yet — don't." 


Lincoln's "Certificate of Moral Character" 

WHEN Lincoln left Springfield, Illinois, for Washington to 
assume his duties as President, his inaugural address was 
placed in a satchel which was to be guarded with extra attention. 
It was placed in the care of the President-elect's oldest son, 

Somehow it was lost, and with deep concern Lincoln approached 
one of his body-guards and said, "Lamon, I guess I have lost my 
certificate of moral character, written by myself. Bob has lost 
the gripsack containing my inaugural address." 

Another search was made which led to the baggage room. 
Upon arriving there, Lincoln observed a bag which he thought 
was his, but upon opening it found a soiled shirt, some paper col- 
lars, and a bottle of whiskey. However, later on the satchel was 
discovered in a pile of baggage, and once again the first inaugural 
address was safely in the hands of its author. 

This incident caused much merriment after the satchel was 
found and of course it reminded Lincoln of a story. He said: 
"I once knew a fellow who had saved up fifteen hundred dollars, 
and had placed it in a private banking establishment. The bank 
soon failed, and he afterwards received ten per cent of his invest- 
ment. He then took his one hundred and fifty dollars and de- 
posited it in a savings bank, where he was sure it would be safe. 
In a short time this bank also failed, and he received at the final 
settlement ten per cent on the amount deposited. When the 
fifteen dollars was paid over to him, he held it in his hand and 
looked at it thoughtfully, then he said: 'Now, darn you! I have 
got you reduced to a portable shape, so I'll put you in my 
pocket.' " 

Suiting the action to the word, Mr. Lincoln took his address 
from the bag and carefully placed it in the inside pocket of his 
vest, but held on to the satchel with as much interest as if it still 
contained his "certificate of moral character" written by himself. 


A Member of the Aristocracy 

FOUR months after Lincoln married Mary Todd, a convention 
was held in Sangamon County for the purpose of selecting the 
county's choice for the congressional nomination. There was 
another aspirant for the nomination from Sangamon — Lincoln's 
friend, Edward D. Baker. Two factors, one positive and the other 
negative, were largely responsible for Lincoln's failure to win the 
support of the party at the county convention. First, he had 
recently married an aristocrat; second, he did not belong to a 

Lincoln got a big laugh out of the attempt to put him among 
the aristocrats and wrote to a friend, "It would astonish if not 
amuse the older citizens to learn that I (a strange, friendless, un- 
educated, penniless boy, working on a flatboat at ten dollars per 
month) have been put down here as a candidate of pride, wealth, 
and aristocratic family distinction. Yet so, chiefly, it was." 

Nevertheless, much against his wishes, he was made one of 
the county delegates to the district convention to help Baker get 
the nomination. He wrote with reference to this appointment: 
"I shall be fixed a good deal like a fellow who is made grooms- 
man to a man that has cut him out, and is marrying his own dear 


I anij in height, 
six feet four inches, nearly; 
lean in fleshj weighing on an 
average one hundred and eighty 
■pounds; dark complexion, with 
coarse black hair and gray eyes. 
No other marks or brands recol- 



Form 1650 • 


Recall T hat Lincoln Had 
Patro nage Troubles, Too 

Find Comfort 
In Anecdotes 

Congressmen Relate 
His Stories. 

Patronage-hounded congressmen 
found comfort Friday in recalling, 
on Abraham Lincoln's birthday, 
that he, too, had trouble with job 

One representative, browsing 
among the Lincolniana in the li-; 
brary of congress, discovered this 

An administration senator early 
in the civil war, noting Lincoln 
appeared dejected, inquired: 

"Have you heard bad news from 
Fort Sumter?" 

It's Postoffice. 

"No," answered the president 
sadly, "it's the postoffice at 
Jonesville, Mo." 

Lawmakers submerged by re- 
peated visits of the same constitu- 
ent related the story about Lin- 
coln's persistent bald-headed caller 
from Philadelphia. 

"Did you ever try this stuff on 
your hair?" asked the president, 
taking a bottle from a cabinet 

"No," said the visitor, "I 

."Well, do so," co ntinued Lincoln, 
"and com.e _back in eight or ten 
months and tell m e how it works." 

Bid of One Fellow. 

He got rid of him — for eight or 
ten months. 

Long-suffering listeners to the 
intricate legislative proposals of 
colleagues told of Lincoln's pa- 
tience with Robert Dale Owen, the 
spiritualist, who read him a long 

Asked how he liked it, the 
president replied: 

" Well, for those who like that 
_go?£ n f thin e'. T "fr"" 1fl thir 11- it T i 
j ust the sort of th ing_they would! 
liEe? 1 

Gifted With Laughter 

Purple Death Took Him, and a Mighty Fate 


fY". \ By Claire MacMurray 

IF IN your life, as in the average, the proportion of happiness to 
unhappiness is only slightly less than one-third. you should be 
content for you have your share. If in your life, as in Lincoln s, 
the proportion of happiness is vastly lower than that, it may com- 
fort you to consider how often "life feeds on adversity, and death 
on pleasure and repose." •,•*•„„ 

Lincoln's daily life was a dark tapestry woven of humiliating 

man eifted with tolerance and laughter. 

man giuea ^ j may not cry » but even 

the"asuai q stuaent of his life must realize that he used laughter 
S our mothers used the hairpin-not only for convenience and 
^me™ but as a weapon, as a key to locked doors, as a repair 

Lincoln laughed and said "Stanton is a very able man. If he said 
^^HeTe^lied'toT'slanderous attack by the Jacobins (hii ; fervent 

tears. He rid himself of a Wj&maea dor 
imposed upon him by presenting him with a borne 01 n 
"Please accept thi«, sir" Lincoln .said with a ^ » e ^ U £ me 
hair on a pumpkin. Go home and 1 JnaUnce. Persever 
back in six months and report Good day rf 

Often he laughed just for fum ^onjidw h» lav 

£ ^irSwa^t-wea. "but as a do g 

his s^SSMJrtK S* «c « i- ■* the ™ 

steadfastly. upheld_by courage, buoyed by laughter. 

Bulletin of the Lincoln National Life Foundation ----- Dr. Louis A. Warren, Editor 
Published each week by The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, Indiana 

Number 789 


May 22, 1944 


The recent passing of George Ade, who was born the 
year after Lincoln died, closes a life span of these two 
Hoosier humorists of over a century and a quarter. Ade's 
demise, coming so shortly after the death of Irving Cobb, 
who lived just across the Ohio River from Indiana, makes 
it appropriate to gather a few notations under the title, 
Hoosier Humor. 

The Lincoln National Life Foundation recently ac- 
quired a large plastic panel containing the full length 
figures of six humorists, who have been brought together 
in an informal study. The artist, Jullian Lee Rayf ord, has 
called the portrait, "The Great American Humorists of the 
19th Century." The six men included in this illustrious 
company of laughter-makers are Bret Harte, Mark Twain, 
James Whitcomb Riley, Abraham Lincoln, Josh Billings, 
and Artemus Ward, named in this order according to the 
positions, from left to right, which they occupy in the 
Rayf ord portrait. 

Possibly we should have used the term "a half dozen 
humorists" rather than the specific number six, because 
it carries with it the idea of speaking in round numbers. 
The artist must have had this in mind, for under the in- 
scription identifying the figures, is this notation : "P.S. Bill 
Nye was here but he's out to lunch right now." 

The two Hoosiers, Riley and Lincoln, occupy the center 
of the study, where Lincoln towers above the others with 
his right arm resting on Riley, and his left hand on the 
shoulder of Artemus Ward. The entire group is presented 
in a story telling pose, each with some peculiar physical or 
property stamp to identify him. 

The panel also contains a brief quotation from each 
humorist: — "Did you ever have the measles, if so; how 
many?" A. Ward. — "Be virtuous and you will be eccen- 
tric." M. Twain. — "The heathen Chinee is peculiar." B. 
Harte.— "The goblin 'ill get you." Riley.— "If I did not 
laugh I should die." Lincoln. — "Good for 90 daze, yours 
without a struggle." J. Billings. 

The expression taken from Lincoln's words about laugh- 
ing, recalls that in his much quoted farewell letter, Irving 
Cobb mentioned his book, Exit Laughing. While Lincoln 
may not have contemplated that his exit from life would 
find him laughing, the fact is he was witnessing a com- 
edy at the time of his assassination and in his last con- 
scious moments he must have been smiling at least. 

If we were to choose Lincoln's favorite half dozen hu- 
morists, we would select J. G. Baldwin, Charles Farrar 
Browne (Artemus Ward), David Ross Locke (Petroleum 
V. Nasby), C. G. Halpine, Joe Miller, and R. N. Newell 
(Orpheus C. Kerr). Lincoln's interest in many of the 
humorists rested in their ability to make him laugh, as he 
is reported to have said during the war that "laughter is 
my anecdote for tears." 

While the Lincoln student may be interested in the hu- 
morists that made Lincoln laugh, most people are more 
familiar with Lincoln himself as the story teller. Often, in 
starting to tell a story, Lincoln would preface his remarks 
with "As my old father used to say." It was during the 
fourteen Hoosier years that Lincoln received his tutoring 
in humor, under the direction of his story telling father. 

It is very difficult to organize with any degree of satis- 
faction, data which might fall under the general caption 
of Lincoln Humor. The first problem is to sort out the 
spurious from the genuine. Don Marquis in the Saturday 

Evening Post, of fifteen years ago, stated, "I developed a 
bad habit of inventing Lincoln stories . . . When I couldn't 
find anything better to fill up my column, I used to invent 
a story and attribute it to Lincoln." We wonder how many 
columnists have been just as industrious as Don Marquis. 

After having done sufficient culling of the fake stories 
by observing the time element, and internal evidence, the 
first division of importance is to separate the stories told 
about Lincoln from the stories told by Lincoln. The first 
division, although they may be of a humorous nature, be- 
long, in reality, in a biographical classification, this also 
applies to stories which Lincoln may have told about him- 
self or his autobiographical references. A large part of 
the humorous data about Lincoln should be gathered under 

The anecdote, yarn, tale, fable, or whatever term we 
may apply to incidents, real or imaginary, which Lincoln 
used for so many varied purposes, should be surveyed from 
an entirely different viewpoint. 

The organization of the anecdotes themselves is an in- 
teresting and enlightening pursuit, and reveals the genius 
of Lincoln's humor, which can be gained in no other way. 
Here are some of the caption heads that might guide one 
in such a quest and which present some of the objectives 
for which Lincoln used his matchless power of story tell- 

Objectives in Lincoln's Story Telling 

ENTERTAINMENT.— The primitive cracker box type, 
which also extends over into the circuit riding days. 

RIDICULE. — A devastating instrument used in the 
early political canvasses. 

ILLUSTRATIONS.— A substitute for definition, and la- 
borious explanation. 

DIPLOMACY. — To relieve tension, remove barriers, 
dismiss applicants, evade decisions, forestall demands. 

SOCIABILITY. — A medium for putting at ease those 
brought into his company. 


-To arouse the inert and to cheer the 

Laughter apparently served as a stimulent to Lincoln 
himself and in seasons when he seemed to be in the very 
depths of despondency he would himself become the story 
teller or seek some source of humor which would lift him 
out of remorse and nerve him for another trial. Often his 
humor was confused with what his critics referred to as 
a ribald and degenerating amusement and his reputation 
suffered from these exaggerations, especially during the 
latter part of the war. 

This story about the efficacy of Lincoln's prayers is 
timely. Two women of the Quaker faith, during the rebel- 
lion, were discussing the probable outcome of the war. One 
said, "I think that Davis will succeed." When she was 
asked the reason for her opinion she stated, "Because 
Davis is a praying man." "And so is Lincoln, a praying 
man," her friend replied. The final retort, however, seemed 
to be convincing: "Yes, but the Lord will think Lincoln is 

Abe Lincoln, H Alive Today, 
Would Succeed as Gag Writer 

' BY LLOYD LEWIS ^/ / ■'■/-' J ' 

F ADDITION to his greater talents, Abraham Lincoln had a gift 
that, were he alive today, and not employed in government, would 
have made him a fortune as a gag writer for radio comedians. Insisting 
that he never coined any of his famous stories, he nevertheless had what 
the best of the radio humor writers have today, an artistic ability to 
rearrange, condense, rephrase and sharpen folk-jokes and comic situ- 
ations into a form that was all his own. 

His stories were helped immeasurably, when he told them, by his 
own amazing talent for quizzical, 

droll comedy — a delivery perhaps 
as funny as Mark Twain's, a use 
of facial expression perhaps as ir- 
resistible as Charlie Chaplin's. 

He practically never employed 
humor except to illustrate a point 
that had come up in conversation 
and he apparently usually used a 
drawl for comic effect. Neverthe- 
less, the point of his humor char- 
acteristically came with the same 
crisp, crackling speed used by the 
highest salaried gag writers today. 
At a church meeting the rival 
candidates for Congress, the Rev. 
Peter Cartright and Lincoln, ap- 
peared before the voters. The 
preacher spoke first and insinu- 
ated strongly that his opponent was 
an agnostic, a heretic and possibly 
an infidel. Lincoln waited patient- 
ly. The preacher said, "Now, will 
all those who are going to heaven 
stand up?" All rose but Lincoln. 
Cartright turned in triumph at 
having thus linked Lincoln and 
Satan, and cried, "And Mr. Lincoln, 
where are you going?" 

Lincoln stood up and said, "I'm 
going to Congress." 

Came Up Dry 
Once he and a friend were dis- 
cussing a profound, solemn, cele- 
brated historian of their time. The 
friend said, "It may be doubted 
whether any man of our genera- 
tion has plunged more deeply in 
the sacred fount of learning." Lin- 
coln quipped, "Or come up dryer." 
Lincoln told of a friend who, 
when named to examine and In- 
spect the state prisons, gave the 
first penitentiary so conscientious 
and thorough an inspection that he 
got lost in the dungeon corridors 
down among the prisoners sen- 
tenced to life imprisonment. He 
stepped up to the bars of one cell 
and said to a convict, "Excuse me, 
but how do you get out of this 

When a pompous statesman was 
buried with extravagant ceremonies 
in Washington, Lincoln observed, 
"If he'd known what a big funeral 
he was going to have he'd have 
■ died long ago." 

When one of his brother lawyers 
' on the circuit tore the seat of his 
trousers, joking colleagues started 
signing_a subscription to buy him 
a new pair of pants. Lincoln looked 
over the list of names and then 
'solemnly wrote, "I can contribute 

nothing to the end in view." 
Gingerbread Boy 

When asked why ho seemed to 
avoid women, Lincoln explained 
that he was like a neighbor boy in 
Indiana. who had been poorer than 
the Lincolns were. This boy came 
over one day to where young Abe 
was eating gingerbread men, the 
greatest treat on the frontier. He 
asked for one of the men. Abe 
gave it to him, then for another 
which Abe was starting to con- 
sume. Abe gave him that and the 
boy wolfed it down. 

"You seem to like gingerbread," 
said Abe. 

The boy replied: "Abe, I don't 

s'pose anybody on earth likes gin- 
gerbread better — and gets less." 

When asked how his wife's aris- 
tocratic Southern family, the 
Todds, spelled their name, with one 
or two "ds," he answered, "Two. 
One was enough for God but not 
the Todds." 

Lincoln told of a father who kept 
urging his big, bashful son to take 
a wife until the young man finally 
burst out bawling, "All right, whose 
wife will I take?" 

Once when he was confined to his 
office by the contagious but not 
serious disease, varialoid, • his sec- 
retary told him that the outer office 
was full of those chronic beggars 
for political favors, the Congress- 

"Throw open the doors; let 'em 
in," said the President. "At last 
I've got something I can give 'em." 

Lincoln Tale 

Col. Samuel C. Willson of Crawfordsville was a strong'lawyer 
in Indiana during the period when attorneys "rode the circuits" 
and met at various county taverns at night to tell stories and play 
seveu-up. Willson was a large, gruff man, yet extremely kind- 

In his early manhood he was called to a town in Illinois 
on business. The weather was very cold, and when he arrived 
at the only tavern in town, he found a company of strange law- 
yers forming a circle around a stove in the office. None of them 
appeared to notice his entrance; no room was offered him by 
the fire . 

"Well, well," he bellowed in his heavy, gruff voice, "you're 
a beautiful set of fellows — a handsome lot for Illinois." As he 
spoke, he shook great clouds of snow from his shaggy overcoat. 

A gaunt, bony man of immense stature slowly lifted himself 
from one of the chairs. Willson was six feet tall, but this man 
towered over him. "Stranger," he said to Wilson, "we were 
discussing our looks just as you entered, and we agreed that if 
an uglier man than I came in here tonight we'd murder him on 
the spot. Landlord," he called in a louder voice, "fetch here 
your meat ax; the monster has arrived!" 

A roar of laughter greeted this speech, and a few minutes 
later Colonel Willson was delightedly listening to stories by 
Abraham Lincoln, the tallest man of the company. 












Humor of Abraham Lincoln Has Kept 

His Countrymen Amused Ever Since 

In Humility, He Often Turned the Joke on Himself and, Like Will Rogers, Avoided 
Jests That Were Bitter or Would Hurt Others— In Politics, a Humorous Answer 
Often Won the Argument. 


By Warren H. Griffith. I sheep, and Tom Watkin's boy 
(A Member «,/ r^ star** stotf J killed the dog ; old John Mounts 

NE side of Abraham tanned the dogskin and Sally 
t,,>* lifP that never Spears made the gloves. That's 
glSws^lnmfteShow I know they're dogskin." 

is that expressed in his Trials of a Postmaster. 

jokes and humorous anecdotes. 
The serious expression he often 
wore beneath his stovepipe hat 
seemed to deny he was a humor- 
ist. Yet in spite of the tragedy 
that involved him and the grave 
years he spent in the White 
House, his great sense of humor 
is one of the things that make 
it certain he will live forever in 
the nation's hall of fame. 

When Carl Sandburg wrote his 
biography of Lincoln he made 
effective use of the humorous 
side of Lincoln's career. "The 
Prairie Years," published almost 
a quarter-century ago by Har- 
court, Brace & Co. as the first 
half of the complete biography, 
includes numerous examples of 
the rustic humor enjoyed by 

Among the first business ven- 
tures of Abe Lipcoln was the ped- 
dling of notions and knickknacks 
at farm houses. This was under- 
taken along the way when he 
and his father were moving by 
ox wagon from Hardin County, 
Kentucky, to a new home in 
Macon County, Illinois. Abe 
Lincoln was then 21 years old 
Eetreat of a Peddler. n*i 
One day he approached a farn 
that seemed to the young Lincoln 
to be "full of nothing but chil- 
dren." The mother, redheaded 
and redfaced, clutched a whip in 
her hand. The father, meek and 
tow-headed, stood in the doorway 
as Lincoln approached. The wife 
saw the young stranger, pushed 
her husband aside and asked 
what was wanted. ' 

"Nothing, madam," Lincoln 
answered, "I merely dropped in 
to see how things were going." 
"Well, you needn't," the wom- 
an snapped out. "There's trou- 
ble here and lots of it, but I kin 
manage without the help of out- 
siders. This is jest a family 
row, but I'll teach these brats 
their places ef I have to lick 
the hide off every one of 'em. 
I don't do much talkin* but I run 
this house, so I don't want no 
one sneakin' round trying to find 
out how I do it." 

Lincoln recognized that the 
best strategy under the circum- 
stances was a dignified retreat. 
Abe's wit was not long in being 
recognized at New Salem, 111., 
where he and his father estab- 
lished their new home. He be- 
came a clerk in a new store. 

In 1833 Lincoln was named 
postmaster, a job he wanted so 
he might read the newspapers. 
He came to know people always 
asking for a letter and acting 
as if the government were hold- 
ing back a letter for them. The 
story went that he met an Irish- 
man who asked, "Is there a 
letter for me?" "What's the 
name," Lincoln asked. "Be- 
gorry, an' ye'll find the name on 
the letter," replied the Irish- 

When more than a decade 
later Lincoln was elected to the 
House of Representatives and 
went to Washington to take his 
seat in Congress, he became 
known as a storyteller. The 
House postoffice was a favorite 
meeting place of yarn spinners. 

him out of it, but you have had 
enough of the stuff left to make 
Presidents out of several com-| 
paratively small men since; and 1 
it is your chief reliance now to 
make still another." 

A virtue of the Lincoln wit 
was that he enjoyed turning it 
upon himself. One of the sub- 
jects of that wit was his lanky 
stature. Once when the Lincoln 
cow went dry, he stepped over 
to borrow some milk from Jim 
Gourley, his neighbor. Gourley 

"He used to come with his 
feet in a pair of loose slippers,^ 
wearing old, faded trousers fas-a 
tened with one suspender. Our" 
rooms were low and one day he| 
said, 'Jim, you'll have to liftq 
your loft a little higher; I can't,* 
straighten out under it very-* 
well.' To my wife, who was 
short, he used to say that little-* 
people had advantages; they re-^j 
quired 'less wood and wool tos 
make them comfortable.' " f. 



Solemn Pictures Hide 
Lincoln's Great Humor 

Associated Press Staff Writer 

Washington, Feb. 12 — Near- 
ly all, if not all, the pictures of 

threw back his head, shined his ; 
eyes, and left the qonsequences to 
An old friend, a congressman, 

this tall, gaunt President show an f? H ^ r "! P S vnTtnl Tt 
incredibly melancholy man, bur-.^eU me what you know. It 
dened with an almost overpower- 1 won l take lon L g ; 
ing loneliness. 
Certainly nowhere in the pic 

tures is there anything to hint was to ^ : 

A woman who asked him to in- 
tercede with the War Department 

that Abraham Lincoln had a 
laugh, as one man described it, 

as unrestrained as the neigh of a to go. They do things in their 
wild horse. ; own way ver there, and I don't 

Nor do the pictures suggest this! amount to p j g tracks in the War 
description: 'Department." 

"His features were lighted, hisj ^^to's humor was a part of 
eyes radiant, he responded to sun-, him d it b an £ 

dry remarks humorously then |in ^ important part as the 'civil 
dryly, and thenceforward was w , r ' .„.„ 
cordial and hearty." Congressman Isaac N. Arnold 

Tedious Process once c hided him for joking when 

Posing for pictures was a ted- the war looked bleakest. Arnold 
ious process. Robert Lincoln said then heard something that fits in 
his father invariably lapsed into better with the photos we have of 
melancholy during the ordeal. j Lincoln, 

Discovery of what may be an-j "Mr. Arnold," the President 
other photo of Lincoln, long un- cried, "If I could not get momen 
recognized, was announced yester- tary respite from the crushing 
day by Wayne C. Grover, archi- burden I am constantly carrying, 

Human Part of Him 

"It's of no use, madam, for me 

vist of the United States. The pic- 
ture is a scene at Gettysburg, 
Pa., on the day of Lincoln's ad- 
dress, taken by Matthew Brady, 
noted Civil War photographer. 
Grover said one figure has tenta- 
tively been identified as Lincoln. 

Had the flashbulb been around 
in those days, enabling alert pho- 
tographers to catch each fleeting 
change in expression, the pictori- 
al record - and possibly our im- 
pressions of Lincoln .- might be 

Again, maybe it is just as well 
the flashbulb came later. 

For the truth is, we Americans 
don't like too much levity in ourj 
chief executives. A sense of hu-l 
mor, yes; but we want it well! 
under control. 

'Coarse Comedian' 

Lincoln's love of a good story j 
brought repeated charges that he 1 
was a buffoon, a coarse comedian 1 
who laughed as men died on the 
battlefield. i 

Lincoln kept right on telling 

Today, on his birthday, let's' 
sample some of his humor, picked' 
out of Carl Sandburg's splendid 

Describing an orator, Lincoln 
said: "He can compress the most 
words into the smallest ideas of 
any man I ever met." 

Again, Lincoln pictured a wind- 
bag "who mounted to the rostrum, 

my heart would break!" 

Lincoln s Sense of Humor 

Kept Heart From Breaking 

LU-1 *■ -\"»- %l 
Associated Press SUff Writer 

Washington, Feb. 12— (£>)— 
Nearly all, if not all, the pictures 
of this tall, gaunt president show 
an incredibly melancholy man, 
burdened with an almost over- 
powering loneliness. 

Certainly nowhere in the pic- 
tures is there anything to hint 
that Abraham Lincoln had a 
laugh, as one man described it, 
as unrestrained as the neigh of 
a wild horse. 

Nor do the pictures suggest 
this description: 

"His features were lighted, his 
eyes radiant; he responded to 
sundry remarks humorously, then 
d^ly, and thenceforward was 
cordial and hearty." 

Tedious Process 

Posing for pictures was a tedi- 
ous process. Robert Lincoln said 
his father invariably lapsed into 
melancholy during the ordeaL 

Discovery of what may be an- 
other of Lincoln, long unrecog- 
nized, was announced yesterday 
by Wayne C. Grover, Archivist of 
the United States. The picture is 
a scene at Gettysburg, Pa., on the 
day Lincoln's address, taken by 
Matthew Draby, noted Civil War 
photographer. Grover said one 
figure has tentatively been iden- 
tified as Lincoln. 

Had the flashbulb been around 
in those days enabling alert 
photographers to catch each 
fleeting change in expression, 
the pictorial record — and pos- 
sibly our impressions of Lincoln 
—might be different. 

Again, maybe it is just as well 
the flashbulb came later. 

For the truth is, we Americans 
don't like too much levity in our 
chief executives. A sense of 
humor, yes; but we want it well 
under control. 

Lincoln's love of a good story 
brought repeated charges that he 
was a buffoon, a coarse comedian 
who laughed as men died on the 

Kept Right On 

Lincoln kept right on telling 

Today, on his birthday, let's 
sample some of his humor, picked 
out of Carl Sandburg's splendid 

Describing an orator, Lincoln 

said: "He can compress the most 
words into the smallest ideas of 
any man I ever met." 

Again, Lincoln pictured a wind- 
bag "who mounted to the ros- 
trum, threw back his head, 
shined his eyes, and left the con- 
sequences to God." 

An old friend, a congressman, 
got this reception: "Come in here 
and tell me what you know. It 
won't take long." 

A woman who asked him to in- 
tercede with the War Department 
was told: 

"It's of no use, madam, for me 
to go. They do things in their 
own way over there, and I don't 
amount to pig tracks in the War 

Lincoln looked upon himself as 
a retailer, not a manufacturer, 
of stories. 

One involved a preacher at* 
tempting to sell a Bible to a 
woman in the hills. She said she 
had one. Where? the preacher 
asked. A big search began, and 
finally a couple of leaves of the 
Bible were found. 

The preacher insisted this was 
no Bible, and the woman insisted 
it was. 

"But," she contended, "I had 
no idea we were so nearly out." 

Lincoln's humor was a part of 
him, and it became an increasing- 
ly important part as the Civil 
War wore on. 

Congressman Isaac N. Arnold 
once chided him for joking when 
the war looked bleakest. Arnold 
then heard something that fits in 
better with the photos we have 
of Lincoln. 

"Mr. Arnold," the President 
cried "if I could not get mo- 
mentary, respite from the crushing 
burden I am constantly carrying, 
my heart would break!" 

i Lincoln Valued Humor, Used 
It in Easing Grave Crises 


Ci_/«M_. *-W*'^\.- 


\-L - 

No known photograph, portrait 
or memorial depicts Abraham Lin- 
coln as smiling. To most of us he is 
the brooding, melancholy figure of 
the Lincoln Memorial 

Thousands who today stand be- 
fore the somber statue and other 
monuments would be surprised to 
learn that his contemporaries oft- 
en charged Lincoln with unseemly 
levity in times of grave crises 
while he served as President. 

True, there was a vein of melan- 
choly in his sensitive makeup, 
Some writers have described his 
face as the saddest they ever wit- 
nessed. The sorrows and the frus 
trations of the great Civil War 
struggle hung heavily on his shoul- 

Richard Hanser once wrote in 
the Lions Club magazine, that Lin 
coin's sense of humor which seem- 
cd to^have been one of his assets 
from early life, served as a bul- 
wark against the bitter and bloody 
disasters of the Civil War. 

The story Lincoln enjoyed most 
telling about himself involved two 
Quaker women discussing the out- 
come of the war between the 

"I think Jefferson Davis will suc- 
ceed." said the first, "because Jef- 
ferson is a praying man." 

"And so is Abraham Lincoln a 
praying man," said the second. 

"Yes. but the Lord will think 
Abraham Lincoln is joking." 
• * * 

Lincoln first made a name for 

himself as an able, astute lawyer, 
but he won just as much fame for 
his jokes and stories as his skill 
in the courtroom. Whenever court 
proceedings got tedious, judges 
were in the habit of turning to 
Lincoln for something with which 
to liven up the proceedings. 

When he entered Ine national 
nrcna of the Lincoln-Douglas de- 
bates, his inexhnustib'e humor :■?- 

him score off his opponent and won 
him support. Once when Douglas 
called Lincoln "a two-faced man," 
Lincoln turned to Douglas, spiled 
and said: "I leave it to my audi- 
ence, if I had another face, do 
you think I would wear this one?" 
When Lincoln reached the White 
House it became apparent that for 
him humor was far more than 
mere tomfoolery and empty clown- 
ing. He used it as a buttress and 
a shield against the cares and ir- 
ritations of office. Driven almost 
to distraction by the hordes of job- 
seekers, he found that a joke or a 
comical remark was the only pos- 
sible defense. 

* * * 

One time a delegation plagued 
the President to appoint a certain 
man diplomatic representative to 
the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), 
urging that their candidate was ail- 
ing and would benefit by the salu 
brious climate. 

"I'm sorry, gentlemen," Lincoln 
replied, "but theie are eight other 
applicants for the place and they 
are all sicker than your man." 

His reservoir of stories helped 
Lincoln stay serene under the pub- 
lic abuse to which he was c.ten 

mor was a dike which served to 
hold back the darkness that threat- 
ened to engulf him. 

* * * 

On Sept. 22, 1862, the war cabi- 
net was summoned to the White 
House for a special session. He 
then read to the group a now al- 
most forgotten skit called "High- 
Handed Outrage at Utica," by Ar- 
temus Ward. Some of the cabinet 

members were furious, but Lincoln 
subjected. When an old Springfield 'read on and at the end laughed 
friend asked him ho-v it felt to be heartily. 

President of the United States, be 

"You've heard about the man 
who was tarred and feathered and 
ridden out of town on a rail? Well, 
when a man in the crowd asked 
him how he liked it. he replied, 
'If it wasn't for the honor of the 
thing, I'd rather walk.' " 

Hanser points out that there 
were many who mistook Lincoln's 
joking for callousness, especially 
when the jokes continued to flow 
in the most tragic days of the war. 
The hostile press and his political 

Then he said: "Gentlemen, why 
don't you laugh? With the fearful 
strain that is upon me night and 
day, if I did not laugh I should die, 
and you need this medicine as 
much as I do." 

Then Lincoln reached into his 
tall hat and- pulled out a paper 
from which he read. It was the 
Emancipation Proclamation. Sec- 
retary of War Stanton was over- 
whelmed. He got up, took Lincoln 
by the hand and said: "Mr. Pres- 
ident, if reading a chapter of Ar- 
temus Ward is a prelude to such a 
opponents hung the epithet of j deed as this, the book should be 
"buffoon" on him. But those who|filed among the archives of the 

came a political as^et that helped knew him understood that his hu- nation and the author canonized." 

Bulletin of The Lincoln National Life Foundation - - Dr. Louis A. Warren, Editor 

Published each week by The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, Indiana 

Number 1399 


January 30, 1956 


Several years ago the Foundation secured a plaster 
panel, 50 inches by 25 inches, which portrays in full 
length, figures of six American humorists: Bret Harte, 
Mark Twain, James Whitcomb Riley, Abraham Lincoln, 
Josh Billings and Artemus Ward. Physically at least, 
Lincoln towers above the group. On the panel there are 
brief comments of the humorists and credited to Lincoln 
is the statement: "If I did not laugh I should die." 

The leading article in a recent number of the Saturday 
Evening Post, entitled "The Land Where Laughs are 
Born," presents Kentucky as the state of the story teller 
and several of her favored sons are introduced who have 
excelled in the art of humor. Among the earlier genera- 
tions the names of Watterson, Cobb and the still active 
Barkley appear. A contemporary picture of a younger 
group at a story telling bee at Lexington contains at 
least four Kentuckians known to Lincoln students: 
Thomas Clark, J. Winston Coleman, Jr., Holman Hamil- 
ton and William A. Townsend. 

Lincoln is featured in the monograph as the outstand- 
ing humorist among the Presidents and a portrait of 
him is displayed with the citation: "Abraham Lincoln's 
story telling powers was part of his Kentucky birth- 
right." The author of this comment might have docu- 
mented the affirmation with this statement, left standing 
when Lincoln corrected one of the early campaign 
biographies : 

"From his father came that knack of story telling 
which has made him so delightful among acquaintances 
and so irresistible in his stump and forensic drolleries." 
Time and again in introducing some bit of humor Lincoln 
would begin, "as my old father used to say" then would 
follow some pioneer witticism coming from the senior 
Lincoln. These were probably reminiscences of the early 
days when Abe and his father were together for twenty- 
one years. 

When the Lincolns moved from Indiana to Illinois it 
is very evident that they did not leave behind them their 
sense of humor. The life on the eighth judicial circuit 
was made merry by the stories of Abraham Lincoln and 
they are legion. One of the county seats where both 
Hoosiers and Suckers gathered around the open fireplace 
for an evening of laughter was the McCormick Hotel 
at Danville, 111., near the Indiana line. Ward H. Lamon, 
friend of Lincoln conducted his law office in this town. 

There has just come into the hands of the editor of 
Lincoln Lore a pamphlet published in 1910 at Danville 
entitled Story of a Store. It was distributed by the 
Woodbury Drug Co. on its 50th anniversary. Previous 
to 1860 the firm's name was Sconce and Woodbury. The 
pamphlet mentions a day book which reveals Lincoln 
traded with the firm and Doctor Woodbury states that 
on one occasion Lincoln left "an order for the funny book 
of those days viz -.Phoenixiana," or as the subtitle states : 
"Sketches and Burlesques by John Phoenix." Lincoln 
Lore (No. 511) once published a compilation of titles 
which were designated as the important source books 
of Lincoln's humor. Phoenixiana was not included but 
apparently should be added to the list. The Foundation 
is fortunate in having a copy of this rather scarce item, 
it having been purchased in Long Beach, Cal., not far 
from where it was published. 

Lincoln must have been amused at the frontispiece 
autographed, "Yours respectfully John P. Squibob." 
Under this signature is this printed note: "The auto- 
graph may be relied on as authentic, as it is written by 
one of Mr. Squibob's most intimate friends." Squibob as 
portrayed by the frontispiece is a laughing man with 
extremely long nose and large pointed ears. The book 
was copyrighted in 1855 and the tenth edition bears the 
date 1856 so it must have been widely distributed during 
its first year. It was dedicated to Dr. Charles M. Hitch- 
cock of San Francisco and most of the monologues are 
oriented in either San Francisco or in San Diego, the 
city where it was published. 

The first chapter of the book would be of special 
interest to any one like Lincoln who had been a surveyor 
and who was familiar with the various instruments used. 
They served as leads to numerous puns which were then 
popular vehicles for the humorist. Referring to the 
surveying party Phoenix said: "Each employee was 
furnished with a gold chronometer watch, and, by a 
singular mistake, a diamond pin and a gold chain; for 
direction having been given that they should be furnished 
with 'chains and pins' meaning of course such articles 
as are used in surveying." Each surveyor was instructed 
"to set his watch by Greenwich meantime, which though 
excellent to give one the longitude, is for ordinary 
purposes the meanest time that can be found." 

The chapter on astronomy must have aroused memories 
in the mind of Lincoln having been interested in that 
science when but a youth. After commenting on Isaac 
Newton observing an apple fall from a tree, with his 
subsequent discovery of the law of gravitation, Phoenix 
concluded: "Thus we see that as an apple originally 
brought sin and ignorance into the world, the same fruit 
proved thereafter the cause of vast knowledge and en- 
lightenment . . . had the fallen fruit been a pear an 
orange or a peach, there is little doubt that Newton 
would have eaten it up and thought no more of the 

Phoenix elaborated on the moon and stated that upon 
the latest advice no one had succeeded in reaching it. He 
ventures: "Should any one do so hereafter, it will prob- 
ably be a woman as the sex will never cease making an 
exertion for that purpose as long as there is a man in 

This further comment about the moon must have been 
appreciated by Lincoln especially in later years: "We 
may consider the moon an excellent institution, among 
the many we enjoy under a free republican form of 
government, and it is a blessed thing to reflect that the 
President of the United States cannot veto it." 

During the afternoon of Lincoln's last day he was 
entertaining some Illinois friends, among them former 
Governor Richard J. Oglesby. Miss Ida M. Tarbell at 
one time had before her some reminiscences prepared by 
Oglesby, recalling this last visit to the President. He 
stated: "Lincoln got to reading some humorous book — 
I think it was by 'John Phoenix'." So it appears that 
not only as a lawyer on the circuit in Illinois in 1855, but 
ten years later as President in 1865 he still found en- 
joyment in the book of humor. It may be that 
Phoenixiana was the last book from which Abraham 
Lincoln ever read. 

The Elizabethtown News 
February 18, 1953 

More Stories 
Of Lincoln 

"The fact is," once said Abraham 
Lincoln, "i don't like to hear cut-and- 
dried sermons. When I hear a man 
preach, I like to see him act as if he 
were fighting bees." " 

An Irishman once called at a post- 
office where Lincoln was postmaster. 
"I want my letter, Mr. Postmaster," the 
Irishman said. "What is the name?" 
asked Lincoln. "Sure and my name Is 
on the letter," said the Irishman. 

When a boy, Lincoln had an uncle 
who kept a mill. Noticing the mill 
grinding slowly one day, Lincoln said 
he could eat the meal faster than the 
mill could grind it. "For how long?" 
asked the miller. "Until I starved to 
death," Abe replied. 

Giicajjo Tribune 
: ebruary 20, 1966 

100- Year-Old Anecdotes Retold 

0. h i • I it i' jb u v\ e. — 2.-5.0 


The Humorous Mr. Lincoln 


Rei/eued by Paul M. Angle 

WHY DO THEY do it? Why does a capable, well estab- 
lished author suddenly turn to a new field, read a few 
books without discrimination, and risk his reputation on a 
trivial performance? And why does a first-rate publisher 
put into print a quickie that makes no contribution, and 
m all probability, will not sell a sufficient number of copies 
to break even? 

That Keith Jennison has only superficial knowledge of 
the Lincoln field is clear. He has Nancy Hanks reading 
aloud to her children, yet it has been well established 
that she could not read. Contrary to the author's assertion, 
Lincoln's family did accompany him when he went to 

Paul M. Angle, former director of the Chicago Hhtorical 
society, is an author, edHor, and Civil war authority. 

Washington as a congressman in 1847. Five members of 
h.s first cabinet were not his political rivals. Some had 
been Democrats, but by i860 all had become Republicans. 
Of the anecdotes that are the book's reason for being, 
a great many are sober. Most of those which purport to 
be humorous are stale. Why shouldn't they be? They have 
been appearing in print for almost a century. 

THAT LINCOLN was a genuine humorist is incontro- 
vertible, but no writer has succeeded in showing how funny 
he was. None can. William H. Herndon, Lincoln's law 
partner, explained why: "In the role of story-teller I regard 
Mr. Lincoln as without an equal. His power of mimicry 
and his manner of recital were unique. His countenance 
and all his features seemed to take part in the performance. 
As he neared the pith or point of the story every vestige 
of seriousness disappeared from his face. His gray eyes 
sparkled; a smile seemed to gather up, curtain-like, the 
corners of his mouth; his frame quivered with suppressed 
excitement; and when the nub of the story — as he called 
it — came, no one's laugh was heartier than his." 

Jennison quotes this passage. If he had taken its impli- 
cations to heart, he might not have written this inconse- 
quential book. [Crowell, 176 pages, $4.95] 

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onnqi.1^ ofiBDTip 

Illinois state Register 
February 11, 1967 


^ k : 9 ^~ tv tys tii uw 

Some Stories About A. Lincoln 

Jncota didn't want tn ™ f„ «,. «.» ™ -. . " WIM 

Lincoln didn't want to go to the the- 

£*£*"*£"!?*' and he had 

seen it before. Besides, he was tired 
and wanted to go to bed eariy . ' 

to see the show-and he gave in. 

When they were leaving for the the- 
ater he jokingly said: "I'll eo Marv 
but if I don't go down in g&£% 
% e es ^ r Presj dent, I mis7my 

When a reporter informed Lincoln he 
was assigned to cover a Democratic 
convention the President asked htato 
send several letters about the went 
The newspaperman asked what points 
he should emphasize. 

"I want the interesting stories," said 

& !£&. T 16 S ries you *K 

ta J, aoout-but wouldn't print." 

t i„ , , was runnin g ^ Congress 

JSffahta f, C0n5tituent « he S 
vote lor him. He was to d: "T admire 

Sift. *• ""* bi < ta 

a/W*' Voter '" Umoln countered "I 

sasys" «■"**■ bui *™ j» 

Lincoln was a devout man He once 

wTy ai "w d hii S r faith * «-6» tffi 
way When I gaze at the stars I feel 

cL rK 00kWg 3t «» f3Ce Of God 

aman^^ ltmightbe P° ssibl ^or 

He enjoyed preachers who went in 

He safd-ft ? t U S g their -™i 
lie said. I don't like to hear cut-and- 

wer a e C U^ e £ff ^ * aS « he 

Lincoln loathed snobs. When he came 

across one of them bragging about Ws 

ancestors being born in AmericT he 

K, r A emmded 0f a P atriot * foreign- 
born American who said: "I wanted to 

S^luSF ~ but my mother 

When Lincoln was running for Con- 
gress his opponent was a preacher 
named Peter Cartwright . . . Lincoln 
went to watch him deliver a sermon. 
He concluded his preaching with: "All 
those who want to get to Heaven will 
rise" . . . Everybody stood up except 
Lincoln. Cartwri.ght asked why he had 
remained in his seat. 

"Because," was the reply, - x m go- 
ing to Congress." 

When Lincoln was practicing law he 
joined a group of attorneys near a 
fireplace in a tavern. He warmed his 
hands over the fire and commented: 

I is a very cold night. Colder than 

Whereupon one of the lawyers asked: 
"You've been there?" 

"Yes," he snapped, "and the funny 
thing is that it's much like it is here 
—all lawyers are ne3**st the fire." 


Lincoln picture, 7 1 ix5 1 / 2 (1906). Translation from M990. 

XII. (Abraham Lincoln) Finnish. 
01379, M3861 

Wrappers 8^x5 %, 354p. Translated from M3849. 


The John G. Nicolay collection of manuscripts in the 
Library-Museum of the Lincoln National Life Founda- 
tion has among its many interesting documents a "memo- 
randum from the State Department laying down rules 
of etiquette" for the Lincoln Administration. 

The cardinal rule, because it comes first, is to the 
effect that the President must "never say 'sir' in address- 
ing a titled foreigner." 

Nicolay's rather rough and incomplete notes, based 
on the State Department's memorandum, follow: 


The Private Secretary represents (the President) 
in acknowledging social courtesies by return and 
other calls. 
Official Calls 

On Senate, House, Sup. Court' & etc. 
On Diplomatic Corps 

Style of card 
No. of Cards left 

One card for each member of family in Society. 

Mark no card at private house except to designate 
a stranger or one not member of the family. 

Turn over corner when left in person. 

Send only to hotels. 

Ordinarily when given 

Beginning first Tuesday in January and alternating 
with Secretary of State to end of March. 

As military 

Official reception on New Years 
11 to 11 Vi the Diplomatic Corps 
11% to 12 Judges of Supreme Court 
11% to officers of Army and Navy 
from 12 to 2 general reception 

At the Diplomatic reception the cabinet & their 
families form part of President's family 

No other regular reception for Diplomatic Corps 

At informal evening calls of Diplomats it is well 
for the President to go down. 

At Saturday receptions the President ought to go 

Parties if given must be entirely informal or acci- 

As the President accepts no invitations to dine or 
to parties (only in exceptional cases) he is at liberty 
to make social visits or calls when and where he 





Supreme Court 

Heads of Bureaus ought to be invited occasionally. 

Citizens of Washington ought to be invited now 
and then. 

May be given during the spring when the crowds are 

Visiting strangers ought to be invited — May be 
mixed in at official dinners. 
Military and Naval 

Sometimes given invitations. 
When Issued 

For dinner, invitations should be issued one week 

See to getting answer 
Form of Answer required 

As soon as possible 

May send additional invitations up to within two 

days of dinner & verbally after. 
How Addressed 

Cards should be addressed to the lady of the house 
when there is one 

[The hour for state dinners was 7] 
Dress for gentlemen 


Black Dress 

Blue Dress bright buttons 

(Never wear frocks) 


Black — ■ white in Summer- 



White or straw kids 

Boots or shoes 

New Years Receptions 
Many details 

Note: The Speaker & Vice President are not invited 
formally but admitted in case of their own accord 
see fit to come 


Nobody appreciated the wisdom of laughter more 
fully than Abraham Lincoln. His peculiar genius for 
utilizing the funny story to illustrate a point, or to sway 
others to his way of thinking, is widely recognized. It 
would be expected, therefore, that in a library such as 
we have at the Lincoln National Life Foundation, which 
contains over ten thousand books and pamphlets dealing 
with the life of Abraham Lincoln, there would be a consid- 
erable number devoted to his wit and his wisdom. Each 
year we would normally expect to add a few more items 
in this category, and this would certainly astonish no one. 
What is surprising is that within a period of nineteen 
months we have added to our collection four publications 
with identical titles: The Wit and Wisdojn of Abraham 
Lincoln. These range in size from a miniature brochure 
measuring d y A by 2V& inches and containing 60 pages, to 
an 8 1 /! by 5% inch book of 265 pages. 

The book, by H. Jack Lang, was first published in 1941, 
with additional printings in 1942, 1943, 1944, 1946 and 
1965. The brochures are compiled by Hallmark Cards, 
Inc., Pyramid Books and the Fleming H. Revell Com- 

A fifth publication recently added to our library bears 
the title Abraham Lincoln, Wisdom & Wit. This brochure 
of 61 pages is compiled by Louise Bachelder. Like those 
mentioned above, it is comprised of excerpts from Lin- 
coln's speeches, letters and other writings. 

Still another publication with similar title, Abraham 
Lincoln — A Digest of the Wit and Wisdom of Abraham 
Lincoln by King V. Hostick was released in 1958 and 
added to our library in 1962. 

Ruth Higgins 


Lincoln Lore Index 1 - 1500 

About November 1, 1967 there will be available 
for sale a Lincoln Lore Index extending from the 
first copy issued April 15, 1929 to the fifteen 
hundredth copy issued in February, 1963. The in- 
dex will be a 56 page publication in offset printing 
of green ink and will measure ll"x8%", the identi- 
cal measurements of Lincoln Lore. The index will 
be in three divisions; namely, titles, subjects and 

The price of the index will be $2.00. All orders 
will be handled through the Lincoln National Life 

LINCOLN LORE ■** / /f fc S" 

3U*, <«?k8 

pany the supposedly accredited messengers to Lincoln, 
but he discovered that they were without the proper 

Lincoln next wrote a "To Whom It May Concern" 
statement dated July 18, 1864. It follows: 

Executive Mansion 
Washington, July 18, 186A 

To Whom it may concern: 

Any proposition which embraces the restoration of 
peace, the integrity of the whole Union, and the aban- 
donment of slavery, and which comes by and with an 
authority that can control the armies now at war 
against the United States will be received and con- 
sidered by the Executive government of the United 
States, and will be met by liberal terms on other sub- 
stantial and collateral points; and the bearer, or 
bearers thereof shall have safe-conduct both ways. 
Abraham Lincoln 

This statement was carried by John Hay, who arrived 
at Niagara Falls on the 20th of July, but Greeley's 
peace efforts were a fiasco. The New York Tribune edi- 
tor had been deceived, and he took his defeat in his 
little game of diplomacy in a bad spirit. 

The President, however, remained consistent in his 
desire to meet "any persons, anywhere" or to put it 
differently, "at any time" to discuss conditions that 
would lead to peace. 

"I have learned to face threats on my life philosophically 
and have prepared myself for anything that might come." 

M. L. K. 

An account of Lincoln's dream, which may have been 
a premonition of his approaching death, was first re- 
corded by Ward Hill Lamon in his Recollections of Abra- 
ham Lincoln 1847-1865, which book was edited by Dorothy 
Lamon Teillard (his daughter) in 1895, and published by 

A. C. McClurg and Company. According to the author, 
this dream was related by Lincoln "only a few days 
before his assassination." Lamon stated that he was 
present with Mrs. Lincoln when the President revealed 
the following secret of his sub-conscious mind : 

About ten days ago, I retired very late. I had been 
up waiting for important dispatches from the front. 
I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a 
slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. 
There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. 
Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people 
were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered 
downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same 
pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I 
went from room to room; no living person was in 
sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met 
me as I passed along. It was light in all the rooms; 
every object was familiar to me; but where were all 
the people who were grieving as if their hearts would 
break? I %vas puzzled and alarmed. What could be 
the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause 
of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, J 
kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I 
entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Be- 
fore me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse 
wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were sta- 
tioned soldiers who were acting as guards; and there 
was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon 
the corpse, whose face ivas covered, others weeping 
pitifully. "Who is dead in the White House?" I de- 
mand of one of the soldiers. "The President," was his 
answer; "he was killed by an assassin!" 
Does history really repeat itself? While these episodes 
in history are not carbon copies of the political, diplo- 
matic and military maneuvers of 1968, along with the 
chaos and assassination that marks our troubled times, 
there are certain overtones which might lead one to be- 
lieve that history sometimes appears to repeat itself. 

Joe Miller's Jests 

A favorite yarn that is often told 
to illustrate Abraham Lincoln's brand 
of humor concerns the man with a 
pitchfork and a farmer's dog. Ac- 
cording to Frederick Trevor Hill, who 
wrote Lincoln The Lawyer, the oc- 
casion when the Illinois attorney told 
this story was while he was defending 
a case of assault and battery. It had 
been proved that the plaintiff had 
been the aggressor, but the opposing 
counsel argued that "the defendant 
might have protected himself without 
inflicting injuries on his assailant." 

With this argument in mind Lin- 
coln said, "That reminds me of a 
man who was attacked by a farmer's 
dog, which he killed with a pitchfork. 
'What made you kill my dog?' de- 
manded the farmer. 'What made him 
try to bite me?' retorted the offender. 
'But why didn't you go at him with 
the other end of your pitchfork?' per- 
sisted the farmer. 'Well, why didn't 
he come at me with his other end?' 
was the retort." 

Where did Lincoln get this story 
which must have proved to be so valu- 
able to him in his assault and battery 
case? From Joe Miller's Jests which 
was first published in 1739. Henry 
C. Whitney, in his book Life on The 
Circuit with Lincoln, stated that "He 
(Lincoln) really liked Joke books, 
and among others which I know to 
have been favorites were "Recollec- 
tions of A. Ward, Showman," "Flush 
Times in Alabama," Petroleum V. 
Nasby's letters, and Joe Miller's Joke 
book. He would read them aloud to 
whomsoever he could get to listen to 

The Joe Miller version of the yarn 
follows : "A Dog coming open-mouth 'd 
at a Serjeant upon a March, he run 

joe Miller's JESTS 

OR, T H E 



A Collection of the moll Brilliant J ests; 
the Politeit Repartees; the moll Ele- 
gant BonsMots, and moll plealant fhert 
Stories in the Etiglijh Language. 

1'irft carefully collected in the Company, and 

Moll Humbly Inscribed 
to tbo/t Choice-Spirits of the A G E, 

Captain Bodens, Mr. Alexander Pope, 
Mr. Profeflbr Lacy, Mr. Orator Henley, 
and Jos Baker, the Kettle-Drummer. 


Primed and Sold by T. Read, in DegXt&Coitrl, Whiter 
Byttrs, Rtet-Strat, iioqaooas. 

the Spear of his Halbert into his 
Throat and kilPd him: The Owner 
coming out rav'd extremely that his 
Dog was kill'd, and ask'd the Ser- 
jeant, Why, he could not as well have 
struck at him with the blunt End of 
his Halbert? So I would, says he, if 

he had run at me with his Tail." 

We do not know what edition of 
Joe Miller's Jests Lincoln read. The 
first and subsequent early editions are 
real collectors' items. A description 
of the first edition follows: "(Mottley, 
John). Joe Miller's Jests; or the Wit's 
Vade-Mecum: being a collection of 
the most brilliant jests, the politest 
repartees, the most elegant bons mots, 
and most pleasant short stories in 
the English language; first trans- 
scribed from the mouth of the face- 
tious gentleman whose name they 
bear, and now set forth and published 
by his lamented friend and former 
companion, Elijah Jenkins, Esq. 8 vo, 
London: Printed and sold by T. Read, 
1739." Of the first edition very few 
perfect copies are known. The book 
sells today in fair condition from 
$750 upward." 

For information gathered by Hal- 
ket & Laing we must conclude that 
John Mottley was the compiler. "In 
the list of English dramatic writers 
appended to Whincop's Scanderbeg, 
published in 1747, it is stated under 
Mottley's name, that 'the book that 
bears the title of Joe Miller's jests was 
a collection made by him from other 
books, and a great part of it supplied 
by his memory from original stories 
recollected in his former conversa- 
tions." Joe Miller himself was a comic 
actor, who made his first appearance 
at Drury Lane Theatre on the 30th 
April, 1715; in 'The constant couple'; 
he died on the 16 of August 1738." 

The Lincoln Foundation's copy is 
a facsimile of the rare first edition 
of 1739 which was published in Lon- 
don about 1870. 

T'u; Courier . T onrn;iJ 


Joe creason 

^4 rare sense of humor 
helped sustain Lincoln 

THOSE WHO scoff at the therapeutic 
benefits of laughter should study the life 
and times of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th 
president who was born 164 years ago in 
a crude log cabin in Kentucky. 

For Lincoln's less than five years in 
office came during the Civil War, the 
tragic time when the Union he had vowed 
to preserve seemed certain to crumble. 
And, perhaps more than any man ever to 
occupy the awesome position, he relied 
on hiimor to break the tension of his 
office and give him strength to carry on 
in the face of mountainous problems. 

"If I were unable to laugh," he said 
once, "I think I should die." 

In keeping with that philosophy, he 
constantly used earthy, homey, humorous 
stories as an instrument to underscore, to 
emphasize and to point up. As at a Cabi- 
net meeting in 1863, the darkest war year, 
when things were especially grim. An en- 
tire army hadn't been heard from in days 
and was feared lost in Tennessee. While 
the Cabinet met, word came from the 
army stating it was out of rations, low on 

ammunition and the enemy was ciuMiig 

"That's good," Lincoln sighed. "In a 
situation like this, I'm like the old woman 
in Kentucky who had so many children 
she couldn't keep up with them. Every 
time she would hear one cry, shed say, 
'Well, there's one of my children who 
isn't dead yet!' " 

Shortly after being re-elected for a sec- 
ond term, he was asked what it was like 
to be president. 

"I feel like the poor man who had been 
tarred and feathered and was being rid- 
den out of town on a rail," he replied. 
"The man turned to his tormentors and 
said, 'Really now, if it wasn't for the 
honor of the occasion, I'd just as soon 
you hadn't done this!' " 

Yes, indeed. Maybe there's a lesson for 
today in the simple humor a great Ameri- 
can turned to in his time of need. 


February, 1980 

Bulletin of the Louis A. Warren Lincoln Library and Museum. Mark E. Neely, Jr., Editor. 
Mary Jane Hubler, Editorial Assistant. Published each month by the 
Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46801. 

Number 1704 


J.G. Randall said of Lincoln that the "continual interweav- 
ing of good fun in his writings and speeches shows that 
humor was no mere technique, but a habit of his mind." His 
fondness for humorous writers was lifelong. All students of 
Lincoln's tastes in reading note his affection for such humor- 
ists as Orpheus C. Kerr (a pun on "office seeker" and the 
pseudonym of Robert H. Newell). Petroleum V. Nasby (the 
pseudonym of David Ross Locke) was another favorite. The 
day Lincoln first presented the Emancipation Proclamation 
to his Cabinet, he began the meeting by reading "High 
Handed Outrage in Utica," a humorous piece by Artemus 
Ward (the pseudonym of Charles Farrar Browne). Lincoln's 
penchant for reading aloud from comical books apparently 
persisted to his dying day, when he regaled old friends with 
anecdotes from Phoenixiana; or, Sketches and Burlesques. 

John Phoenix was the pseudonym of George Horatio Derby. 
Born in Dedham, Massachusetts, in 1823, Derby graduated 
from West Point in 1846. He 
served with distinction in the 
Mexican War and later led sev- 
eral exploring expeditions in 
the West, mostly in California. 
A wit and a notorious practical 
joker, he first gained literary 
distinction in California in 
1853, when he was put in tem- 
porary charge of the San Diego 
Herald, a Democratic news- 
paper. Derby was a Whig in 
politics, one of a great tradition 
of Whig humorists, and he 
quickly turned the newspaper 
on its head politically. Califor- 
nia howled with laughter. In 
1856 he published Phoenixiana, 
a collection of humorous 
sketches which became imme- 
diately popular. 

Naturally, Lincoln was 
attracted to the Whig humorist. 
In his debate with Stephen A. 
Douglas at Freeport on August 
27, 1858, Lincoln charged his 
opponent with inconsistency 
on the question of the power of 
states to exclude slavery from 
their limits. Douglas, Lincoln 
insisted, had once charged that 
the Democratic administration 
of James Buchanan was con- 
spiring "to rob the States of 
their power to exclude slavery 
from their limits." Douglas 
withdrew the charge when 
Robert Toombs of Georgia 
stated that only one man in the 
Union favored such a move. 

From the Louis A. Warren 

Lincoln Library and Museum 

FIGURE 1. The frontispiece of Phoenixiana, shown 
above, has this note printed under it: "This auto- 
graph may be relied on as authentic, as it was written 
by one of Mr. Squibob's most intimate friends." 

It reminds me of the story [Lincoln continued] that John 
Phoenix, the California railroad surveyor, tells. He says 
they started out from the Plaza to the Mission of 
Dolores. They had two ways of determining distances. One 
was by a chain and pins taken over the ground. The other 
was by a "go-it-ometer" — an invention of his own — a 
three-legged instrument, with which he computed a series of 
triangles between the points. At night he turned to the 
chain-man to ascertain what distance they had come, and 
found that by some mistake he had merely dragged the 
chain over the ground without keeping any record. By the 
"go-it-ometer" he found he had made ten miles. Being skep- 
tical about this, he asked a drayman who was passing how 
far it was to the plaza. The drayman replied it was just half 
a mile, and the surveyor put it down in his book — just as 
Judge Douglas says, after he had made his calculations and 
computations, he took Toombs' statement. 

The reporters covering the 
speech noted that "Great 
laughter" followed. 

The Louis A. Warren Lincoln 
Library and Museum recently 
acquired a copy of Phoe- 
nixiana, notable because it 
belonged to David Davis, 
Lincoln's friend and Judge for 
the Eighth Judicial Circuit. 
Davis wrote his name and the 
date, "March 28th . . 1856.," in 
pencil on the back of the 
frontispiece. The Sangamon 
County Circuit Court was then 
in session in Springfield, and 
Lincoln argued before the 
Court that day. One cannot 
help speculating that Judge 
Davis very likely showed the 
book to his friend. 

If Lincoln owned a copy of 
Phoenixiana himself, its 
present location is unknown. It 
seems likely that he did, 
however. The description of 
Lincoln's last day by Katherine 
Helm, Mary Todd Lincoln's 
niece, mentions the book. After 
their carriage ride in the late 
afternoon. President and Mrs. 
Lincoln separated. The 
President entered the White 
House with Richard J. Oglesby. 
the Governor of Illinois, and 
some other political friends. 


to Miss Helm, 
Oglesby later 

got to reading 


some humorous book — I think it was by "John Phoenix." 
They kept sending for him to come to dinner. He promised 
each time to go, but would continue reading the book. 
Finally he got a sort of peremptory order that he must come 


— *" 

to dinner at was explained to me by the old man at 
the door that they were going to have dinner and then go to 
the theater. 


No. '26 ANN STREET, N. Y. 

From the Louis A. Warren 

Lincoln Library and Museum 

uuiLviri L,iuiut y uriu museum 

FIGURE 2. Lincolnana was one of several cheap paperbacks published during the Civil War which capitalized on 
the President s reputation for enjoying humor. Though this trait endears Lincoln to us today, it was not universally 
admired in his own day. Note that the cover of this book shows him splitting the Union with a joke. Lincoln was 
otten pictured as a vulgar jokester, too small for the great office he occupied 


By Richard Wolkomir 


Political insult ain't 
what it used to be 

Whatever happened to the fine old an of 
political insult? Maybe it's because 
they've been squeezed through too man\ 
TV tubes, but don't modern politicians 
seem a bit bland? 

With no polls, PR wizards or slick video 
ads to rely on, candidates used to go into 
combat armed with razor wits and luxu- 
riant vocabularies. Maledictions sizzled 
through the air like rockets. And a sharp- 
ened slur could be lethal. 

For instance: the eloquent John Ran- 
dolph, of Virginia, was not fond of his 
fellow Congressman, Henry Clay, of 
Kentucky. One day, brimming with bile. 
Randolph shot off this description of 
Clay: "This being, so brilliant yet so cor- 
rupt, which, like a rotten mackerel by 
moonlight, shined and stunk." 

Slapped with a sentence like that, a man 
might forever smell faintly of fish. That 
sort of invective led one foreign observer 
of our political style to note that Ameri- 
cans were the only people he knew to 
pass from barbarism to decadence with- 
out experiencing civilization. 

Disgusted with a campaigner who was 
trampling all over the facts, a reporter 
told fellow newsman Heywood Broun. 
"He's murdering the truth!" "Don't 
worry," Broun replied. "He'll never get 
close enough to do it any harm." New 
York attorney Roscoe Conkling. asked to 
campaign for Presidential candidate 
James G. Blaine, replied, "I do not en- 
gage in criminal practice." 

It was Theodore Roosevelt who in- 
spired one of the neatest political barbs. 
Teddy had just left on a much-publicized 
lion-hunting safari in Africa when the 
following notice appeared on a wall at 

the New York Stock Exchange. "Wall 
Street expects every lion to do his duty." 

Politicians weren't the only ones with 
sharp tongues. Hecklers, too, knew the 
potency of a boobv-trapped sentence, as 
William Jennings Bryan discovered. Dur- 
ing a political speech he unleashed his 
famous oratorical ability, crying, "I wish 
I had the wings of a bird to fly to every 
village and hamlet in America to tell the 
people about this silver question." Cried 
a voice from the audience, "You'd be shot 
for a goose before you've flown a mile." 

Of course, politicians developed excel- 
lent defenses against such snipers. One 
crack shot, when it came to gunning 
down hecklers, was Al Smith. During one 
of his campaigns for governor of New 
York, just as he began an address, a voice 
from the crowd bawled out: "Tell us all 
you know, Al— it won't take long." "I'll 
tell 'em all we both know," snapped 
Smith. "It won't take any longer." 

Yesterday's politicians reserved their 
highest caliber insults for each other. 
When Bryan was elected to Congress in 
1891. he was dubbed the "Boy Orator of 
the Platte." Senator Joseph Foraker, of 
Ohio, announced that like the Platte 
River, in Bryan's home state of Nebraska, 
Bryan was "only six inches deep but six 
miles wide at the mouth." 

During the Presidential campaign of 
1940. Harold Ickes, the sharp-tongued 
Secretary of the Interior, called Republi- 
can candidate Wendell Willkie "a simple 
barefoot Wall Street lawyer." And when 
the vouthful Thomas E. Dewey an- 
nounced in 1944 that he was entering the 
Presidential race on the Republican 
ticket. Ickes noted that "Mr. Dewey has 
tossed his diapers into the ring." 

Calvin Coolidge had an even drier 
New England wit. Once eager to impress 
the President, a speaker at a party func- 
tion went on and on and on. "How did 
you like my speech, Mr. President?" he 
asked Coolidge later. "Not bad." said 
Cal. but \ou missed a nice opportunity." 
"What was that?" asked the man. "The 
opportunity to sit down about twenty 
minutes earlier." Coolidge said. 

But Coolidge's taciturnity made him 
the butt of many barbed comments him- 
self Clarence Darrow called him "the 
greatest man who ever came out of Ply- 
mouth Corner. Vermont." And when 
Dorotln Parker was told that Calvin 
Coolidge was dead, she said: "How can 
they tell?" 

Lincoln, considered our greatest Presi- 
dent, was also one of our great political 
wits. Usually his humor took the form of 
kindlv parables, but he could be as sharp 
as an Illinois ax when provoked. 

Of a lawver he didn't like, Lincoln 
once said. "He can compress the most 
words into the smallest ideas better than 
any man I ever met." And. during the 
early davs of the Civil War, General Mc- 
Clellan's indecision exasperated Lincoln 
so much that he wrote a note: "My dear 
McClellan: If vou do not want to use the 
Armv I should like to borrow it. . . ." 

Later, Lincoln sent General Hooker to 
take over the Army: Hooker rushed head- 
long into action, sending his dispatches 
from "Headquarters in the saddle." 
Grinning to an aide. Lincoln said: "The 
trouble with Hooker is that he's got his 
headquarters where his hindquarters 
ought to be." 

What 1980 politician can match that? 

Stm'tysonTa* sJ*if^ MBc 


Iraki* The Turret, Fort Knox. Ky., Thurtdoy. Fob 18. 1988 5 


Lincoln used humor 

to amuse, disarm 
during public career 


Reprinted from Rural Kenluckio 

On a cold February morning in 
1809. Abraham Lincoln en- 
tered this world-looking "like 
a red cherry pulp squeezed dry." Trou- 
ble was. he often said of himself, his 
looks didn't improve as he grew. 

History documents only one likeness 
ot Lincoln smiling. Yet he was far from 
a brooding, melancholy figure. In fact, 
he was often accused by his contem- 
poraries of unseemly levity in office. He 
once told a friend that he lived by his 
humor— and would have died without it. 

Even as a child, Lincoln was quick to 
quip. One day, young Abe was given a 
sack of grain to deliver to a miller who 
had a reputation for laziness. As he 
watched the man slowly grind the grain, 
Lincoln commented: 

"You know I'll bet I could eat that 
grain as fast as you're grinding it." 

"And just how long do you think you 
could keep it up?" asked the miller. 

"Oh," said the future president, "un- 
til 1 starved to death, I guess." 

Lincoln made a name for himself as a 
lawyer; what made him famous 
throughout the judicial circuit was not 
so much his skill in the courtroom as his 
jokes and stories. 

On one occasion, he was questioning a 
hostile witness named John Cass. When 
he finally had enough, Lincoln smiled 
disarmingly and asked Cass, "Anybody 
ever call you Jack?" 

Judge David Davis, before whom he 
tried many cases, was one of Lincoln's 
greatest fans. 

"His presence on the circuit was 
watched for," Davis said, "and never 
failed to produce joy and hilarity." 

One day the judge remarked about the 

extreme length of a bill drawn up by a 
rather indolent lawyer. 

"Astonishing, ain't it?" said the 

"Yes, it is," said Lincoln. "Reminds 
me of the lazy preacher that used to 
write long sermons He got to writin' 
and was too lazy to stop " 

Of another boastful lawyer. Lincoln 
said, "He can compress the most words 
into the smallest ideas of any man I 
ever met." 

Ward Lamon, Lincoln's friend and 
fellow attorney, ripped his pants in a 
scuffle outside the Bloomington, 111. 
courthouse one day. Before he had time 
to change, he was called into court. 
Noting Ward's obvious misfortune, his 
colleagues passed a paper soliciting 
funds for a new pair of pants. When the 
paper arrived in Lincoln's lap, he wrote, 
"I can contribute nothing to the end in 

Politics gave Lincoln an even greater 
arena for his humor. During his con- 
gressional race, he attended a meeting 
for his opponent, evangelist Peter 

"All who desire to lead a good life," 
Cartwright called into the audience, 
"and send a good man to Congress and 
go to heaven will please stand." 

Everyone rose but Lincoln. 

"And now all those will stand who 
shun the good life, who wish to see a 
sinful, unprincipled man in Congress 
and who must surely go to hell." 

All eyes were on Lincoln, who re- 
mained seated. 

"Well, Mr. Lincoln," said Cartwright, 
"you don't want to go to heaven and you 
don't want to go to hell. Where are you 

Lincoln got up slowly, reached for his 
tall hat and said, "I'm going to Con- 
gress " and promptly left the meeting. 

During the Lincoln-Douglas debates 

Library ot Congreti 

President Abraham Lincoln was renowned for his wit during his 
presidency and throughout his earlier career as a lawyer. 

of 1858, his inexhaustible humor won 
him many points. When Douglas called 
Lincoln "a two-faced man" during one 
round, Lincoln replied, "I leave it to my 
audience. If I had another face, do you 
think I would wear this one?" 

After his election to the Presidency, 
Lincoln attended many receptions 
where watchful ushers kept the public 
at bay. One guest, disappointed at not 
having shaken Lincoln's hand, waved 
his hat and blurted out, "Mr. President, 
I'm from up in York State where we 
believe that God Almighty and 
Abraham Lincoln are going to save this 

Lincoln smiled and said, "My friend, 
you're about half right." 

Lincoln found relief from the bitter 
and bloody disasters of the Civil War in 
laughter. He'd stalk through the White 
House at night, his gaunt figure clad in 
a flapping flannel nightgown, seeking 
someone still awake to share a funny 
story he'd just read. His favorite in- 
volved two Quaker ladies discussing the 

"I think Jefferson Davis will suc- 
ceed," said the first, "because Jef- 

ferson is a praying man." 

"And so is Abraham a praying man," 
said the other. 

"Yes, but the Lord will think 
Abraham is joking." 

London's Saturday Review called Lin- 
coln "not the Chief Joker of the land." 

When asked how large the Con- 
federate Army was, Lincoln said, 
"About 1,200,000 men." 

He claimed he arrived at such a large 
figure because the Union had 400,000 
men and "whenever one of our generals 
is licked, he says that he was outnum- 
bered three or four to one." 

Lincoln's humor was deeply rooted in 
a knowledge of human nature. When 
Gen. George B. McClellan hestitated 
from storming Richmond, Lincoln sent 
him a note: 

"My dear McClellan: If you don't 
want to use the Army, I should like to 
borrow it for awhile." 

And in the midst of battle, Gen. 
"Fighting Joe" Hooker sent the Presi- 
dent the message, "Headquarters in the 
saddle," prompting Lincoln to tell his 
Cabinet, "The trouble with Hooker is 
that he has his headquarters where his 
hindquarters ought to be." 







by Harold holzer 

but in October 1998 a situation 
comedy set in the Civil War White 
House premiered on national tele- 
vision and promptly ignited a firestorm 
of outrage. The Secret Life of Desmond 
Pfeiffer offended just about everyone: 
critics, for what one called "jaw drop- 
ping" witlessness; African Americans, 
for making a joke of slavery; femi- 
nists, for portraying Hillary Clinton as 
a sexual predator; and supporters of 
her husband, for transparently sati- 
rizing his problems with affairs, apolo- 
gies, and grand juries. 

Most of all — before it died a quiet 
death, the victim of anemic ratings — 
Desmond Pfeiffer offended admirers of 
Abraham Lincoln. The show reduced 
the Great Emancipator of legend to 
an inept, insensitive, sex-starved dolt. 
One scene actually depicted Lincoln 
fantasizing lasciviously about the 
brawny young male soldiers in the 
Union army. 

The irreverence was 
enough to inspire an 

attendee at a Lincoln Family sympo- 
sium at Robert Todd Lincoln's Hildene 
estate in Manchester, Vermont, to cir- 
culate an irate petition demanding the 
show's cancellation. "The nature of 
this will dishonor the name and char- 
acter of the man who has been rightly 
acclaimed our greatest national leader," 
the petition argued. "We, the under- 
signed are highly indignant that tele- 
vision wishes to degrade Lincoln in 
any way." Irreverently portraying the 
16th president, it maintained, consti- 
tuted the desecration of an American 
saint, an insult to history, and a threat 
to national memory. 

But was it? Forgotten by these and 
other angry viewers was a contrary 
historical truth: Abraham Lincoln had 
been dragged through the mud before, 
and often. He was mercilessly lam- 
pooned, viciously libeled, and relent- 
lessly satirized in his own time — and his 
reputation not only survived but flour- 
ished. In fact, his stoic and good- 
natured response in the 
face of such stabs from 


A calm and collected Abraham Lincoln 

writes a note from the Virginia front (right). 

Other cartoons were not so whimsical 

in their portrayals of the president. 

Over the years, he appeared as a wide assortment 

of uncomplimentary characters (below). 

FEBRUARY 2001 45 

the stiletto of malicious verbal and 
visual abuse made him seem nobler at 
the time, and greater in retrospect. 

The national humor mill of the era 
made Lincoln its favorite grist. Amer- 
ican humorists portrayed the Civil War, 
to paraphrase Lincoln, "with malice 
toward owe." And that one was Lin- 
coln himself. His ungainly form, 
homely face, and awkward Western 
manner — not to mention his contro- 
versial policies — formed a combustible 
mixture that inflamed professional and 
political humorists. 

coin emerged as a national figure, fol- 
lowing his unexpected nomination to the 
presidency in May 1860. Engravers and 
lithographers rushed to publish flatter- 
ing portraits introducing the reputedly 
ugly candidate to a wary public. But as 
much as the Republicans sought to make 
virtues of Lincoln's humble origins and 
miraculous rise, Democrats encouraged 
lampoons that mocked those very qual- 
ities. Often the same publishers who 
met the consumer demand for Lincoln 
portraits also made a lot of money 
churning out caricature sheets. 

the quintessential 1860 campaign car- 
toon when they portrayed The Rail Can- 
didate astride a log rail labeled "Re- 
publican National Platform," being car- 
ried to the White House by supporters. 
"It is true I have Split Rails," the uncom- 
fortable nominee declares, "but I begin 
to feel as if this Rail would split me, it's 
the hardest stick I ever straddled." 
Coarser variations on the theme depicted 
him erecting log-rail camouflage to con- 
ceal "niggers in the woodpile" — 
metaphorically minimizing attention on 
the stormy slavery issue by focusing vot- 

Jt is frue / Ae/rt s/-/it 
flails. but / t/tt/iti to /'erf «w 
ij' (Jus /tat I ninilt/tpli/ t//r. s 
its tir //arr/rst ,<ti<-X- / nrr / 
I stradafferf. 

« ©> f 

/ mf rrt/i /*rarc ////rt.roa i///r< < 
Split rr/i/s.trHAae' ///// r/tsurr 

Vis . \ '/<///?/• stroriy ana' iit/lts/.) 
2 >utits i/tr/al Itars/ trorl' to carry j 
Old Jl£jass& *{6t on ru/fAing y 

/'ttt t/is erf /we'/: . 

The wooden rail and the Scotch cap were staples of Lincoln cartoons. The rail (above) was a reference to the worn-out story of his 

heroic rise from lowly splitter of logs to president of a nation. The Scotch cap first appeared in a cartoon by pro-Confederate artist 

Adalbert Volck making fun of Lincoln for wearing a disguise during his 1861 move to Washington, D.C. (opposite). 

This frequent butt of ridicule was 
comically maligned in the press, in 
books, and in cartoons published in 
the North as well as the South, in 
Europe as well as America. Desmond 
Pfeiffer was no exception; it was a 
return to the rule. 

The mockery began as soon as Lin- 

Such cartoons usually depicted Lin- 
coln as a country bumpkin with a wild 
thatch of uncombed hair, clad in ill-fit- 
ting pantaloons and open-necked shirts, 
and wielding a log rail to ward off seri- 
ous inquiries into his supposedly dan- 
gerous views on racial equality. Currier 
& Ives of New York may have crafted 

ers instead on his inspiring ascent from 
a log cabin to the White House. 

Lincoln had only himself to blame 
for inspiring the next wave of ridicule -,- 
early the next year en route to his inau- g 
guration in Washington. By donning 5 
what security advisor Allen Pinkerton g 
described as "a soft low-crowned hat" 53 


I ywc me AcwA 
SOO ooo son* '.'.' 

We// /A* face is- by Che mil/ 
that reminds me or a 


JLz- F. feeks, PUBLISHER, 

&|§jrJ No. EG AXN' StRBKT, N. Y. 



Above: Representing the war-weary 

nation, Columbia demands Union 

troops be returned home. Left: 

The characterization of Lincoln 

as African king attacked both his 

sympathy for black people and 

his perceived tyrannical tendencies. 

Below: Portraying Hamlet in this 

mock scene from Shakespeare's 

play, Major General George 

McClellan, who ran against Lincoln 

in the 1864 presidential election, 

remarks dryly that his once-witty 

rival is making jokes no more. 

and a "bob-tailed overcoat" to avoid 
recognition in hostile Baltimore while 
changing trains in Baltimore, Lincoln 
invited charges that he was a coward. 
Exaggerating his disguise into "a 
Scotch plaid Cap and a very long mil- 
itary Cloak," cartoonists at Harper's 
Weekly issued a hilarious pictorial par- 
ody under the headline, "The Flight of 
Abraham." One panel showed him 
quaking in fear so violently that Henry 
Seward, incoming secretary of state, 
explains to President James Buchanan 
that his successor is suffering "only a 
little attack of ague." Assailing the 
sectional hostility that inspired the 
drastic evasive tactic in Baltimore, the 
pro-Republican New York Tribune 
was nonetheless forced to admit: "It is 
the only instance recorded in our his- 
tory in which the recognized head of 
a nation. ..has been compelled, for fear 
of his life, to enter the capital in dis- 
guise." More blunt was the denunci- 
ation by the Baltimore Sun: 

Had we any respect for Mr. Lin- 
coln, official or personal, as a man, or 
as President elect of the United 
States... the final escapade by which he 
reached the capital would have utterly 
demolished it.... He might have entered 
Willard's Hotel with a "head spring" 
and a "summersault, " and the clown's 
merry greeting to Gen. Scott, "Here we 
are!" and we should care nothing 
about it, personally. We do not believe 
the Presidency can ever be more 
degraded by any of his successors than 
it has by him, even before his inaugu- 

A wave of anti-Lincoln pictorial 
lampoons now flooded the country — 
progressively exaggerating his Balti- 
more disguise until one example 
showed him as a bare-kneed Scots- 
man in a tarn and kilt, dancing "The 
MacLincoln Highland Fling." For 
years thereafter, the Scotch cap would 
remain a staple of anti-Lincoln cari- 
cature, a reminder that once he suffered 
the worst indignity a Victorian-era 
gentleman could ever face: a public 
questioning of his manly courage. 

After the inauguration, Lincoln 
embarked on the deadly serious busi- 
ness of restoring the fractured Amer- 
ican Union and managing the bloodiest 

ugh, i should die.' 

military struggle in world history. Still, 
the humorous assaults continued 
unabated. Further inspiration came as 
more and more Americans learned that 
the president himself enjoyed — and 
often told — funny stories. As early as 
1858, his rival in Illinois politics and 
debate, Senator Stephen A. Douglas, 
had acknowledged his prowess 
with a joke, admit- 
ting: "Nothing 
else — not any of 
his arguments or 
any of Lincoln's 
replies to my ques- 
tions — disturbs me. 
But when he begins 
to tell a story, I feel 
that I am to be over- 
matched." Once Lin- % 
coin entered the White % 
House, accounts of his ^ 
fondness for storytelling w 
spread nationwide. 

Lincoln's admirers loved his down- 
to-earth style and earthy way with a 
comic tale. But foes leaped on such 
qualities as evidence of Lincoln's coarse- 
ness and lack of dignity. One cartoon 
of the day featured him reacting to 
news of wartime slaughter by drawling: 
"That reminds me of a funny story." 
Such caricatures used humor to make 
Lincoln's humor a political liability. 

Lincoln became an apprecia- 
tive reader of the leading 
satirists of the day. He particu- 
larly enjoyed Charles F. Browne (who 
wrote under the pseudonym Artemus 
Ward), David R. Locke (Petroleum V. 
Nasby), and R. H. Newell (Orpheus C. 
Kerr). Secretary of the Treasury Salmon 
R Chase remembered with huffy dis- 
belief that the most momentous cabi- 
net meeting of Lincoln's entire admin- 
istration — the one at which he 
announced he would issue his Eman- 
cipation Proclamation — began with 
the president reading a chapter from 
Artemus Ward's latest book of stories 
and laughing heartily. "If I did not 
laugh," Lincoln confided to a minister 

who questioned his irreverence, "I 
should die." That others were laugh- 
ing at him as well as with him seemed 
to bother him little, if at all. 

In one of his typical, dialect-rich 
comic essays, the fictional Ward visits 
the White House to find a babbling, 

Fresh from Abraham's Bosoia. ; 

Comprising' nil his issues excepting- the " Green Backf," : 

Mailed, pot)t-p:iirl, in l'npcr, 35 ctg. ; Muslin, T5 cts. J 

T. K. JDAWLliY, Publisher, 13 Parle K<>w, N. Y. [ 

Lincoln's good sense of humor-as both 

listener and teller of jokes-helped him 

cope with the constant satirical attacks 

on him. He enjoyed reading humorists 

(from left) Petroleum V. Nasby, 

Orpheus C. Kerr, and Artemus Ward. 

And his own jokes appeared in various 

books such as Old Abe's Jokes. 

confused president intent on telling 
his funny stories and blissfully unaware 
that they do not make much sense: 

/ called on Abe. He received me 
kindly. I handed hum my umbreller, 
and told him I'd have a check for it if 
he pleased. "That, " sed he, "puts me in 
mind of a little story. There was a man 
out in our parts who was so mean that 
he took his wife's coffin out of the back 

winder for fear he would rub the paint 
off the doorway. Wall, about this time 
there was a man in a adjacent town 
who had a green cotton umbreller. " 

"Did it fit him well? Was it custom 
made? Was he measured for it?" 
"Measured for what?" said Abe. 
"The umbreller?" 

"Wall, as I was sayin, " continued 
the President, treatin 
the interruption 
with apparent con- 
tempt, "this man 
sed he'd known that 
there umbreller ever 
since it was a para- 
sol. Ha, ha, ha." 
Lincoln always in- 
sisted he was a "re- 
tailer," not a "whole- 
saler," of the stories that 
made him famous. "I 
don't make the stories 
mine by telling them," he modestly 
maintained. But such confessions did 
not stop publishers from issuing books 
ike Old Abe's Jokester and The 
Humors of Old Abe while he was serv- 
ing in the White House. Lincoln thus 
became the first president ever to inspire 
a joke book — poetic justice for a man 
who listed at least one joke collection 
among the favorite books of his youth. 
Lincoln's jesting ultimately did him 
as much harm as good. Writers twit- 
ted him with volumes like Abraham 
Africanus I, a raw satire accusing him 
of radical policies on race and tyran- 
nical practices such as arbitrary 
arrests. Cartoonists continued their 
assaults as well. Some Confederate 
caricaturists portrayed him as Satan 
incarnate, hiding behind the avuncu- 
lar mask of a bearded statesman. And 
some British artists depicted him dis- 
dainfully as a crafty bartender serv- 
ing the public a mixture of "bunkum," 
"bosh," and "brag." 

The vigor of such attacks only 
increased as the bitter 1864 election 
campaign heated to a boil. A riotously 
funny 1864 campaign "biography," 
Only Authentic Life of Abraham Lin- 
coln, Alias "Old Abe, " described him 





with acidic gusto: 

Mr. Lincoln stands six 
feet twelve in bis socks, 
which he changes once 
every ten days. His anatomy 
is composed mostly of 
bones, and when walking 
he resembles the offspring 
of a happy marriage 
between a derrick and a 
windmill.... His head is 
shaped something like a 
ruta-bago, and his com- 
plexion is that of a Saratoga trunk. His 
hands and feet are plenty large enough, 
and in society he has the air of having 
too many of them.... He could hardly 
be called handsome, though he is cer- 
tainly much better looking since he had 
the smallpox.... He is 107 years old. 

Some of the more vicious presidential 
campaign cartoons depicted Lincoln as 
a supporter of miscegenation (the period 

term for race-mixing), a highly unpop- 
ular position at the time. One example 
showed him happily welcoming a mixed- 
race couple in a topsy-turvy society in 
which African Americans ride in car- 
riages liveried by white servants. Such 
tableaux were meant to stir up a racist 
electorate by encouraging fears that a 
biracial society would be inevitable if 
Lincoln were reelected. 

Along the same line of 
attack, several caricatures 
hinted that Lincoln had 
African heritage. One plate 
by Baltimore etcher Adal- 
bert J. Volck showed the 
president as an Arabian 
| dancer, veiled to conceal his 
3 ethnic features. And in an 
9 anonymous 1864 campaign 
o cartoon, he was an actor 
3 on stage, portraying Shake- 
™ speare's evil Moor, Othello. 
During his reelection campaign, Lin- 
coln became enmeshed in a bizarre 
comic plot that might have caused con- 
siderable political fallout had he not 
sensed its potential danger. The episode 
began on September 29, 1864, when 
the author of the parody volume Mis- 
cegenation: The Theory of the Blend- 
ing of the Races sent the president a 
complimentary copy with a letter ask- 

Lincoln took plenty of abuse for his sympathy toward black people. Above: The president takes the stage in blackface as 
Shakespeare's evil Moor Othello. Below: An artist depicts his vision of the race-mixing that would occur if Lincoln got his way. 
Opposite: The president removes his "Lincoln mask" to reveal the face of Satan, a favorite characterization of Lincoln satirists 


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FEBRUARY 2 00 1 

ing for his endorsement. The author 
gushed, "Permit me to express the 
hope that, as the first four years of 
your administration have been distin- 
guished by giving liberty to four mil- 
lions of human beings, that the next 
four years may find these freedmen 
possessed of all the rights of citizen- 

The author's trap failed to snare Lin- 
coln, who saw through the wily attempt 
to secure a presidential declaration on 
racial integration that Democrats could 
then use to attack the Republicans. 
"This 'dodge' will hardly succeed," the 
London Morning Herald predicted, 
"for Mr. Lincoln is shrewd enough to 
say nothing on the unsavory subject." 
The newspaper was correct. The old 

storyteller had a nose for a practical 
joke, and proved much too smart to 
allow this dangerous one to be played 
on him. Lincoln never replied to the 
anonymous letter. He simply pasted it 
into the inside cover of his copy of the 
Miscegenation book and filed it away 
without comment. It was found in his 
papers after his assassination. 

quote presidential secretary John 
Hay, rarely bothered Lincoln. At 
least once, however, a published 
item — a false report — pushed him close 
to losing his temper. In 1864, the anti- 
Lincoln New York World falsely 
reported that during a tour of the hal- 
lowed Antietam battlefield, the presi- 

dent had requested a ribald song from 
his friend Ward Hill Lamon. "This 
makes a feller feel gloomy," the insen- 
sitive president was quoted to have 
said after inspecting the spot where 
900 men had fallen. "...Can't you give 
us something to cheer us up? Give us 
song, and give us a lively one." Con- 
cluded the World: "If any Republican 
holds up his hands in horror, and says 
this story can't be true, we sympathize 
with him from the bottom of our soul; 
the story can't be true of any man fit 
for any office of trust, or even for 
decent society; but the story is every 
whit true of Abraham Lincoln, incred- 
ible and impossible as it may seem." 
Lincoln was deeply pained by the 
suggestion — designed to sway the sol- 

Perhaps the most vicious cartoon skewering of Lincoln shows him walking among the dead and wounded at Antietam 
and requesting a light-hearted song. Opposite: A lament for Lincoln's reelection shows the president as a phoenix rising 

from the ashes of several pillars of American democracy. 

SovnetWiriQ else trials Wtv 

1 1 wore to read, much less answer, all tie attacks made him 
me, this shop might just as well be closed lor any business.' 

diers' vote — that he could have defiled 
hallowed ground littered with more 
dead and wounded than had ever fallen 
in a single day of fighting. He could not 
nave been comforted by a pictorial 
accompaniment to that libel, a hostile 
campaign print depicting him clutch- 
ing a Scotch cap as he stands among 
the swollen dead and bleeding 
wounded, urging a horrified compan- 
ion to "sing us 'Picayune Butler,' or 
something else that's funny.'" 

It was more than even Lincoln could 
endure. Still, he resisted his 
friend Lamon's repeated 
calls that he issue a public 
denial. He refused to dig- 
nify the calumny with a 
response. When he did 
finally put pen to paper to 
write out his own version 
of his visit to Antietam, he 
quickly instructed Lamon to 
destroy the result. Perhaps 
the act of writing down his 
thoughts was his way of 
letting off steam. 

Lincoln never escaped 
the bombardment of topical 
humor. When he won 
reelection, London Punch 
portrayed him as a phoenix 
rising from the ashes of 
ruined commerce, quashed 
civil liberties, and trampled 
states' rights. Even his leg- 
endary love for the theater 
exposed him to ridicule. In 
August 1863, Lincoln wrote 
to thank the celebrated actor 
James Hackett for a copy of 
his new book on his favorite 
stage roles. Lincoln had his own 
favorites, and his thank-you letter 
frankly expressed his views, including 
his judgment that "nothing equals 

Hackett made the error of publish- 
ing Lincoln's communication as a 
means of enhancing his own reputa- 
tion. The result provoked howls of 
laughter from the press, which merci- 
lessly derided Lincoln for his ama- 

teurish taste. A mortified Hackett wrote 
back to Lincoln to apologize for the 
efforts by the "Newspaper-Presses in 
publishing your kind, sensible, & 
unpretending letter... accompanied by 
satirical abuse." 

Lincoln replied to reassure Hackett 
that the affair had not upset him. "Give 
yourself no uneasiness," he counseled 
the actor, adding that he was not 
"much shocked by the newspaper com- 
ments." His skin had long ago grown 
thick enough to withstand the satirical 

abuse fired at him during his 30 years 
in the political trenches. 

As Lincoln touchingly expressed it, 
the endless taunts were but "a fair 
specimen of what has occurred to me 
through life.... I have endured a great 
deal of ridicule without much malice; 
and have received a great deal of kind- 
ness, not quite free from ridicule. I am 
used to it." 

Modern Americans should be used 
to it, too. American presidents from 
John Adams to Bill Clinton — Lincoln 
among them — have been subjected 
with oppressive regularity to ridicule, 
both poisoned with malice and not. 
Most learn to ignore it. "If I were to 
read, much less answer, all the attacks 
made upon me," Lincoln wrote, "this 
shop might just as well be closed for 
any business...." 

America's first humorist-president 
became one of its most often parodied 
presidents as well. But Lin- 
coln apparently had less 
trouble accepting such 
taunts than do modern 
Americans scandalized by 
the likes of Desmond Pfeif- 
fer; just as he could tell a 
joke, he could also take 
one. And he knew that tri- 
umph is a target's best 
friend. "If the end brings 
me out right, what is said 
against me won't amount 
to anything," he pointed 
out. "If the end brings me 
out wrong, ten thousand 
angels swearing I was 
right wouldn't make any 

Perhaps Lincoln's opti- 
mism stemmed in part 
from a realization that 
humorists make a differ- 
ence. That was true then as 
well as now. Purveyors of 
wit can provide a troubled 
people an occasional laugh 
in the midst of great tragedy. 
Besides, Americans who 
laughed at Lincoln could always 
be comforted by the fact that the pres- 
ident laughed at himself. CWT 

Harold Holzer has written and 
edited numerous books about the Civil 
War and Abraham Lincoln. Among 
the latest is the compilation Abraham 
Lincoln, the Writer: A Treasury of His 
Greatest Speeches and Letters (Boyds 
Mills Press, 2000). 


FEBRUARY 2001 53 

tWo^c\*r F.<-^ ( "fc^^* 



"A good laugh is sunshine in a house." 
— Thackeray 

Share Wisdom and Wit 

he Declaration of Independence was ready to sign. 


Many of President 
Lincoln's adversaries 
made light of his great 
height and homely 
appearance. Instead of 
taking offense at their 
comments, he often . 
exaggerated his height If 
with his tall silk hat 
and even made self- 
deprecating witticisms. 


It was a sober moment in Congress. If 

caught, the members would be con- 
demned for treason for signing that 
declaration. Yet even at an hour as 
momentous as this, there was one man 
who saw humor in the proceedings. 

As John Hancock stood to sign the 
weighty document, Ben Franklin inter- 
rupted with his famous wit. "Now we 
must all hang together," he remarked, 
"or we will certainly hang separately." 
Franklin had capsulized the despera- 
tion of their plight precisely, but he did 
it with a surprising note of humor. 

Life is full of humor, even in some of 
the most stressful circumstances. And 
finding the lighter side of life is a 
healthy exercise of joyfulness. 

Abraham Lincoln was another master 
of humor in dark hours. Yet there was 
more than a jolly personality at work 
there: there was candid wisdom. 

Consider three lessons on the wisdom 
of humor from Abraham Lincoln: 

Humor Alleviates Animosity Lincoln 
faced constant criticism. He was called 
a clown, a baboon, and a lunatic. One 
paper castigated him as "[the] most 
dishonest politician that ever dis- 
graced an office in America." Lincoln 
felt these attacks acutely, but he often 
used humor to respond. 


accused of being a 

one debate, Lincoln was 
two-faced man." 
Lincoln's reply: "I leave it to my audi- 
ence. If I had another face, do you 
think I would wear this one?" The 
crowd erupted in laughter. 

It was not simply public sentiment 
that Lincoln assuaged with his wit 

(though public opinion was important 
to him). Lincoln's humor also enabled 
him to disarm his own hard feelings. 
Humor enabled Lincoln to respond to 
attackers without being drawn into a 
fight. Used wisely, humor can be a tool 
for avoiding unnecessary conflict. 

Humor Makes a Point Clear Lincoln 
also found that a dose of common 
sense clothed in humor was an effec- 
tive way to make his point clear. 

When a general proposed sending 
troops deep into enemy territory Lin- 
coln replied with a story. He told of a 
barrel maker whose barrels kept col- 
lapsing as he tightened the straps. At 
last, his son crawled inside a barrel to 
hold the cover from caving in while 
the father secured it. "Only when the 
job was completed by this inner sup- 
port," Lincoln ended, "the new prob- 
lem arose: how to get the boy out?" 

It was a silly story, really, but the gen- 
eral got the point: he had no exit strat- 
egv for the armies once engaged. Lin- 
coln used humor to make his point 
both clear and memorable. 

Humor Relieves Tension When 
asked by a friend at a sober moment 
why he was always telling stories and 
jokes, Lincoln replied thus: "I laugh 
because I must not cry; that is all — that 
is all." 

Life is full of stress and pain. Few have 
felt life's sorrows more intensely than 
did Abraham Lincoln. But there is also 
humor to be found in life. And it is a 
mark of a genuinely joyful individual 
to "lighten up" and strengthen the 
heart with the wise use of humor. 

Abraham Lincoln's Sense of Humor : The New Yorker Page 1 of 6 


• « The Daily Cartoon: Monday, November 26th 

• Main 

November 28, 2012 

Lincoln's Smile 

Posted by Robert Mankoff 

Something that has always intrigued me about Abraham Lincoln is, not surprisingly, his sense of humor. As far as I 
can tell, he's the first American President to have one. 

That's because the term "sense of humor" really wasn't in common usage until the eighteen-sixties and seventies. In 
the eighteen-forties and fifties, it was called "the sense of the ridiculous," and didn't have the positive connotations 
that "sense of humor" has today. Back then, what was ridiculous was what invited ridicule. Funniness and cruelty 
went hand in hand. Of course, they still do a lot of arm-in-arm strolling in our day as well. 

In the movie "Lincoln," Tommy Lee Jones, as the sarcastically vilifying Thaddeus Stevens, exemplifies the funny- 
cruel connection. Many of his vilifications were too nasty for the Congressional Globe (predecessor of the 
Congressional Record), but this one was recorded: "There was a gentleman from the far West sitting next to me, but 
he went away and the seat seems just as clean as it was before." 

Lincoln's humor was very different because, for one thing, it was actually "humor" as the word was defined in his 
time. We don't make the distinction between "wit" and "humor" anymore, but in the nineteenth century people did. 
Wit was sarcastic and antipathetic while humor was congenial and empathetic. It's the difference we note now when 
we distinguish between "laughing with" and "laughing at." Lincoln was much more about "laughing with" than 
"laughing at." And when "laughing at," it was often himself he was mocking. 

In the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, when Douglas accused Lincoln of being two-faced, Lincoln replied, 
referencing his homeliness, "Honestly, if I were two-faced, would I be showing you this one?" And, in a way, 
Lincoln's face itself tells us much about his sense of humor. 11/29/2012 

Abraham Lincoln's Sense of Humor : The New Yorker 

Page 2 of 6 

You can comb through thousands of photographs of politicians, soldiers, and the like from Lincoln's time and not 
find a single smile. Here's his sourpussed cabinet: 11/29/2012 

Abraham Lincoln's Sense of Humor : The New Yorker 

Page 3 of 6 

True, the extended exposures required for photographs of that era made smiling difficult. Yet Lincoln alone, as far as 
I can tell, overcame that difficulty. And though there is only a hint of smile in his photographs, it hints at what 
Lincoln knew too well: that, as Mark Twain pointed out, "the secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow." 

Interestingly, while having a sense of humor, or at least the appearance of one provided by comedy writers, has 
become a necessary characteristic for an American President in our time, in the nineteenth century, too much humor 
was considered a liability. And that was the case for Lincoln. A journalist covering the Lincoln-Douglas debates 
commented that "I could not take a real personal liking to the man, owing to an inborn weakness for which he was 
even then notorious and so remained during his great public career, he was inordinately fond of jokes, anecdotes, 
and stories." 

So here's hoping that he would be inordinately fond of some of these New Yorker cartoons about him. Or at least 
smile upon them. 11/29/2012 

Abraham Lincoln's Sense of Humor : The New Yorker 

Page 4 of 6 


"If you tivo dunt qu it arguing with each other, Fm gonna 
thrtnvyou hath right out of here!" 

"I ask you, gentlemen, is that 
the face of a dishonest man?" 

http://www.newyorker.eom/online/blogs/cartoonists/2012/l l/lincolns-smile.html?printabl... 11/29/2012 

Abraham Lincoln's Sense of Humor : The New Yorker 

Page 5 of 6 


"0. XL Norm, if be tomes at you utitb *A bouse dividtd agaitul ttttlf 
cannot stand % * what' 't your rtffyF 11/29/2012 

Abraham Lincoln's Sense of Humor : The New Yorker 

Page 6 of 6 

"Mary, is the twelfth George Washington s birth- 
day or is it mine ? 


• From the Desk of Bob Mankoff 
To get more of The New Yorker's signature mix of politics, culture and the arts: Subscribe Now 



http://www.newyorker.eom/online/blogs/cartoonists/2012/l l/lincolns-smile.html?printabl... 11/29/2012 


Lincoln Opened and Closed Im- 
portant Session With Tales 

President Lincoln opened anc" 
closed one of the most important 
Cabinet meetings of his admin- 
istration with funny stories. Ii. 
was the meeting held September. 
22, 1862, when he laid before thr 
Cabinet his draft of the emancl 
pation proclamation. The Presi- 
dent was in good humor and be-' 
'gan .the session by reading a pai" • 
tlcularly humorous chapter froii' 
a new book by Artemus' Ward. A ; 
the conclusion, of the discussloi 
of time proclamation, Salmon P- 
Chase, then Secretary of th". 
Treasury, recalled in his memoir;; 
the remarks of Secretary of Wa 
Edwin M. ^Stanton reminded Lin- 
coln of a story and he told It. A. 
farmer's hired man came rusblu; . 
in and told his employer one of 
his oxen had fallen dead In th?. 
jyoke. - When the farmer 'began 
to , tell htm what to do the hlreo 
man broke In with "but the othei- 
ox has fallen . down dead, ' too." 
Asked why he, had not told the 
entire disaster in the first place, 
he replied that ,he did not want 
to overcome his . employer .by too • 
rjiuch bad news.- 1 — [Kansas • City 



Martyred President Spent Pre- 
paratory Years In Indiana 
Free From Restraint. 

I From the Indianapolis News.) 

A chapter in the life of Lincoln 
that is of more than ordinary value 
because some ol the material is- de- 
clared to be new is contributed to 
j the Indiana Magazine of History Jby 
'Rev. .1. Edward Murr. 
I Mr. Murr has had opportunities for 
' collecting data about Lincoln that 
, most of his biographers apparently 
overlooked. The minister lived for 
many years in Spencer county. He 
'knew the relatives of Lincoln, and he 
has inlk^'l w.tli numerous persons 
who knew him during the time the 
Lincoln family lived near Gentry- 
ville. Many of these persons never 
had talked to a newspaper reporter, 
much less to one of the biographers 
• of Lincoln. 

Too little attention has been paid, 
s Mr. Murr thinks, to Lincoln's life 

when he was growing to young man- 
hood in Southern Indiana. Many bi- 
ographers have been content to pass 
over this and assume that he never 
did anything of importance until he 
entered political life in Illinois. 

Free Life Of A Pioneer. 

"Since Lincoln was destined to rise 
by the sheer force of his own per- 
sonality and imperious will," says 
the writer, "and to develop the great 
qualities < " mind in this almost un- 
believable manner, it was his good 
"me :o spend those years of 

strange preparations among a simplo 

1 minded, yet honest and patriotic folk, 

j hedged in by a wilderness, but freed 

[thereby from tho^e conventional re- 

1 straints and hindrances that older 

land more settled communities usually 

i impose. At the same time he was 

I removed from the blighting effects of 

j vice which, had he been subjected to 

it. might have prevented the, matur- 

ing of a character embodying all of 

the essential basic elements of the 

plain people. Lincoln did not, as 

some have supposed, live the cabin 

life in the White House so much as 

he lived the While House life in the 


Lincoln A Born Mimic. 
'' A, v umerous biographers have at- 
^„ipted to show that Lincoln cared 
Jill le for relig i on, and that he fre- 
quently made fun of ministers oy re- 
peating their sermons, with extra 
nourishes and witty remarks. This is 
denied by Mr. Murr. He points out 
that Lincoln, although only 11 years 
old at the time, helped to build the 
Little Pigeon Baptist Church, which 
was the first church in his neighbor- 
hood. Lincoln was a born mimic, and 
frequently, after a sermon was fin- 
ished, the future President would re- 
peat it, word for word, together with 
the gestures and the peculiar inflec- 
tions of the minister. But Mr. Murr 

does not believe this was done simply 

to be doing something funny. 

i Even, at that early date Lincoln 

was fond of public speaking. He 

! spoke whenever he had an opportu- 

| nity, . and nothing pleased him any 

I better than repeating Sunday's scr- 

| mon to the men at work in the fields 

Ion Monday morning. His father even 

| had to tell him that this practice 

must be stopped because the "hired 

men" frequently neglected their work. 

The Common Touch 

Courier*- Journal , 

A Story WasMoM-Than Story to Lincoli 

PERHAPS more than any! 
other man who has sefVed 

as President k of the United 
States, Abraham Lincoln^ who, 
was born in a Kentucky cabin 
148 years ago,' was a story teller 
with a deep and abiding sense 
of humor. 

His opponents of the 'time 
tried to ridicule him as a Story- 
telling, backwoods buffoon; his- 
tory now paints him as a man 
of the people who never lost the 
common touch, a touch best ex- 
pressed through his homely 
stories and his sense of humor. 

Moreover, some biographers 
have said that this sense of 
humor- was one of the things that 
enabled Lincoln to survive the 
trials of his tragic years in office. 

',• For to- Lincoln a story was 
more than just a story. It was an 
instrument of illustration and of 
emphasis. The many biographies 
of his life are filled with ex- 

Br J 6 

CREASON, Courier-Journal Staff Writer 

amples of how time and again 
he came up with* a story that 
not only illustrated a specific 
'situation, ' but that also broke 
mounting tensions. 

As an example, early in 1863, 
an entire Union Army was be- 
seiged and feared lost in Ten- 
nessee. A crisis meeting of the 
Cabinet was in session when 
word was received from the 
Army. It was, the report stated, 
short on rations, ammunition was 
about gone and the enemy near 
in force. 

Sigh of Relief 

"That's good," Lincoln said 
with a deep sigh of relief. "In a 
situation such as this, I'm like 
the woman with so many children 
she couldn't keep up with them 
all. ■■■■■' 

"Every time one would cry, 

she'd say, There's one of my 
children that isn't dead yet.' " 

Another time Government of- 
ficials were pressing him strong-, 
ly for more money for their de- 
partments, i 

"Gentlemen," Lincoln said, 
"you are a lot like the man whose 
home burned and whose neigh- 
bors came to help them get 
started again by giving him 

"Soon he was better off than 
he had ever been. Other neigh- 
bors came with furniture, pots 
and pans and the like, but he 
thanked them and said, I'm not 
taking anything but money 
now.' " 

Some of the most violent criti- 
cisms aimed at Lincoln came 
from New England. One man es- 
pecially critical, finally Lincoln 
wrote him a long letter that con- 
tained this passage: 

"A traveler on the frontier 
found himself, as night came on, 
in a wild region. A terrible 
thunderstorm added to his trou- 
ble. He floundered along until 

his horse gave out. The light- George B. McClellan, who often 
ning afforded the only clue to ignored orders from the Presi- 
the path, and the crashes of ^?nt After one such instance, 
thunder were frightful. One Lincoln sent McClellan a letter 
bolt, which seemed to crush the 
earth beneath him, made him 
stagger to his knees. 

"Being by no means a praying 
man, his petition was short and 
to the point. 

The drivers sam uiey wi 
suspended drivers were re 
and were offered an apology 
Company President R o a I 
Waring, told of the drivers' ■ 
mand, said, "They certainly v 
stay out a long time." 

100,000 Affected 

The strike against Memp] 
Street Railway caught the ; 
proximately 100,000 daily t 
riders flat-footed. It added 
the already congested rush-ho 
traffic situation. 
_ Many transit riders were wa 
mg at bus stops when told ' 
company supervisory pcrsonr 
and passing motorists that bus 
weren't running. 
§ Local television and radio si 
tions interrupted their cai 
morning programs with freque 
announcements that the drive 
had struck and asking motorh 
to share their automobiles 

By 8:30 a.m. most of tho 
waiting for buses had eith 
caught rides, made other i 
rangements, or returned hore 
Taxi companies operated at 

— ^'^^^L^^'^' but wer ' 
everybody, and no one comes to 
see me." 

'' At times Lincoln had trouble 
with several of his highest rank- 
ing generals, especially General 

'Oh, Lord,' he prayed, 'if it's 

"If you don't want to use your 
army," he wfotev"I should like 
to borrow it,for,^ T while." 

Furious *uU>Gmerul 

After the Battle of Antietam, 
when McClellan ignored orders 
to engage in the fight, Lincoln 
ell the sdme to you, give a little was'furious. 
more light and a little less "That isn't the Army of the 
noise.'" Potomac," he fumed, "it's Mc- 

.. ~--^_ Clellan's bodyguard." 

The exact size of the Confed- 
erate Army was never known in 
Washington. At a Cabinet meet- 
ing it was the topic of discus- 

"If we have 400,000 men in 
arms, then the Confederates must 
have at least 1200,000," Lincoln 
figured, "because every time they 
are defeated mt/ generals claim 
they were outnumbered three to 

All of which caused Lincoln to 
come up with a classic remark 
after he had seen P. T. Barnum's 
show, featuring General Tom 
Thumb and Admiral Nutt. 

"Mr. Barnum," he said after 

the show, "you have some pretty 

small officers, but I think I can 

. beat you." 

"What a pity," he confided to With the war moving to a 


N. Y. Psychoanalyst/ "*= 
Emancipator Evider! 
dotes He Enjoye« 

TORONTO, June 5 (i 
a "schizoid-manic personal^, 
his baser nature under rigid , 
Association meeting today. 

• The analysis was read by Dr. A. A. 
Brill, a psychoanalyst of New York 
. city. 

When an abstract of Dr. Brill's 
speech appeared In the program of 
the association last month. It 
brought a bitter protest from Dr. 
Edward E. Hicks, prominent Brook- 
lyn psychiatrist, who described the 
allusions In Lincoln as "Insulting." 
Dr. Hicks entered a formal protest 
against the speech with officers of 
the association. 

Schizoid is a word of Greek deriva- 
tion meaning to split, and the ex- 
pression applied to Lincoln does not 
mean Insanity. Dr. Brill found the 
trace of Utral personality TtT a reput- 
ed-tendency to tell off-color anec- 
dotes, which bubbled up as part of 
Lincoln's humor. The split, person- 
ality source was traced to his con- 
flicting Inheritance from his mother 
and father, two natures "that never 
became fused in him." 

Dr. Brill ranked Lincoln as a wit 
wlth\ Mark Twain, Uncle Remus, and 
other great American humorists. He 
confined his study to the emotional 
side of the Emancipator. i 

"What Is very peculiar about Lin- 
coln's stories and Jokes," said Dr. 
Brill, "his own and those he appro- 
priated from others. Is the fact that 
many, if not most, are of an aggres- 
sive or algolagnlc nature, treating of 
pain, suffering and death, and that 
a great many of them were so frank- 
ly sexual as to be classed as obscene. 
Most of his biographers speak of the 
latter, but are at a loss to explain 
why Lincoln resorted to this form of 

"Thus, Beverldge remarked that 
'he had faults extremely human, such 
as his love of a certain type of anec» I 
dole, a taste which he never over- j 
came and the expression of which, as 
will appear, was so marked a feature j 
of his manhood and so shocking to j 
the eminent men among whom he 
did his historic work.' " 

Dr. Brill named as other authori- 
ties for the anecdotes "Carl Sandburg 
quoting Henry Villard," and Dr. Hol- 
land's Abrahma Lincoln. 

"Looking at this behavior with pres- 
ent day eyes." Dr. Brill said, "I can- 
not be shocked by any of Lincoln's 
stories that I heard or read. To be 
sure he called a spade, a spade, and 
having been brought up In the back 
woods of pioneer days, he did not 
posses the inhibiting influences of a 
New England environment. 

"Lincoln had to cope with enor- 
mous trials and vicissitudes, poor 
heredity from his father's side, hum- 
ble birth, abject poverty, struggle for 
education, and an unsatisfied love life. 

"But despite these handicaps, he 
attained the highest ambition of any 
American. Nevertheless, throughout 
his life he was unable to disburden 
himself of his depressive moods." 

: BriirsSys there- are "many" author!- * 
ties" for the existence of these moods 
described variously as the blues, me- 
lancholy, abstraction, and mental de- 

"To . any . psychiatrist." Dr. Brill, 
says, "the above mentioned descript- 
ions are- quite, plain. We know. that» 
In- the v .ordinary *ase of manic de- 
pressive fcsycbo5f1f>#nu depressions are 
•often followed by a phase of elation. 
As far as my Investigations go, no 
distinct manic attacks were ever ob- 
served In Lincoln. 

"Judging by all the descriptions 
given of Lincoln's depressions. I feel 
that all one can say is that he was 
a schizoid manic personality, now and 
then harassed by schizoid manic 
moods. These moods never reached 
to that degree of profundity to Jus- 
tify the diagnosis of Insanity. At all 
times Lincoln remained in touch with 
reality, his ego never sought refuge 
In insanity." 


NEW YORK, June 5 (AP)— Dr. Ed- 
ward E. Hicks, Brooklyn psychiatrist 
who protested against the speech of 
Dr. A. A. Brill, psychonalyst, at To- 
ronto today, has added further refu- 
tation to Dr. Brill's statements that 
some of Abraham Lincoln's humor 
was "off color." 

The Lincoln anecdotes, Dr. Hicks 
said today, were "farm folk lore fa- 
miliar In Greek plays in 500 B. C, 
and are still being told in rural Am- 
erica." i 

Dr. Hicks, after reading an abstract 
of Dr. Brill's speech which among 
other things stated that Lincoln was 
a "schizoid manic personality" whose 
baser nature was under rigid con- 
trol, previously - had asked that the 
speech be stricken from the program. 
Subsequent discussion of the mat- 
ter, according to Dr. Hicks, brought 
similar protests from' all parts of 
the country. Dr. Hicks Charged Dr. 
Brill's statements - were "insulting." 
Today he said: •. - 

"The anecdotes of- Lincoln were riot 
obscene" at all»except to modern taste 
as developed in cities. 

"I have been in communication 
with; people who were brought up In 
the mlddlewest -where Lincoln was 
born and raised. They tell me the 
stories Lincoln told were familiar in 
Greek plays in 500 B. C. which have 
been handed down from generation 
to generation by word of mouth. 

"If some of the critics of Lincoln' 
would go out into the country they 
would find the same stories Lincoln 
told still current." 



Col. Thos. H. Nelson Tells How He and 
Governor Hammond were "Sold" by 


At the old settlers' meeting at the opera 
house, Colonel Thomas H. Nelson told 
an amusing reminiscence of his first ac- 
quaintance with Mr. Lincoln. In the 
spring of J 849 Nelson and Judge Abram 
Hammond, who was afterward governor 
of Indiana, arranged to go from this city 
to Indianapolis together in the stage 
coach. This was before the epoch of rail- 
ways and an entire day was usually 
consumed in the journey./ Before the 
dawn of day the coach arrived in front of 
the Terre Haute house, and as these gen- 
tlemen Were about to step in they dis- 
covered that the entire back seat was oc- 
cupied by a long, sloomy' individual 
whose head protruded from one side of. 
the coach and his feel from the 
other. He was the sole occupant and 
was Bleeping soundly. Hammond slapped 
him familiarly on the shoulder and asked 
him if he had chartered the stage for the 
day. The stranger, now wide awake, 
said, "certainly not," and at once took the 
front seat, after politely asking the gen- 
tlemen to take the place of honor and 
comfort, which they accordingly did. As 
daylight advanced they thought they 
took in their traveling companion at a 
glance. A queer, odd looking fellow he 
was, dressed in a well-worn and ill fitting 
suit of bombazine, without vest or cravat, 
and a twenty-five cent palm hat on the 
back of his head. His very piominen^ 
features in repose, seemed dull and ex- 
pressionless. Here was a rare chance for 
fun, and the gentlemen soon availed 
themselves of it! It was not long after 
the quizzing commenced before they d«p- 
covered that the stranger was "greener" 
and a better subject for merriment than 
they expected. They got off many jokes 
and "sells." He took, them all 
with the utmost innocence and good na- 
ture and joined in the laugh, although at 
his own expense. In fact, he seemed to 
be rather awed in the presence of Buch 
eminent men. At noon they stopped at a 
wayside hostelry for dinner. The rain 
was falling and the ground was muddy. 
The stranger sprang from the coach, en- 
tered the inn and returned with a plank 
and an umbrella and the gentlemen, one 
after another, w'ere as daintily handed 
into the house as if they had been ladies, 
! he walking in the rain and mud. "When 
I dinner was announced the gentlemen 
took their seats and he remained standing, 
until Hammond, in a patronizing way, 
• said, "Sit down, my good fellow, and eat 
with us." He appeared to think that it 
was about the greatest honor of his life, 
and he sat down with about half of his 
person on a small chair and held-his hat 
under his arm during' the meal. On be- 
ing asked if he had ever been in as large 
a town as Terre Haute before he said that 
severaljigo he had driven an ox-wagon 

containing a family of movers through 
Terre Haute on their way from Bloom- 
ington, , Indiana, to Paris, Illinois, for 
which he was paid $3.50. He said 
also that he had been in Washing- 
ton City, about which many 
surprising things had been said by the 
gentlemen, Jbut he didn't known much 
about it as he could not move in the same 
circles of society as his distinguished trav- 
eling companions. 

Resuming their journey after dinner, 
conversation drifted into a discussion 
of the comet, ". a subject that was then 
agitating the scientific world, in which 
the stranger took the deepest interest. He 
made many startling suggestions, anC? 
asked many questions showing profound*, 
ignorance of the wonderful phenomenon. 
Nelson amazed him with "words of 
learned length and thundering sound," 
talked about the attractions of ^gravita- 
tion and cohesion, centripetal and cen- 
trifugal forces, etc., etc. After an 
astounding display of wordy pyrotechnics, 
the now dazed and bewildered stranger 

"What is going to be the upshot of this 
comet business?" 

Mr. Nelson replied that he was not 
quite certain, that he differed from most 
scientists and philosophers, but that in 
his private opinion, the world would fol- 
low the darned thing off!- The stranger 
exhibited much alarm and anxiety at 
the prospect of such an appalling 

They arrived at Indianapolis late in 
the afternoon and stopped at Browning's 
hotel. The gentlemen repaired to their 
rooms to improve their costumes. In a 
few minutes Mr. Nelson descended to the 
portico and descried his long, sloomy fel- 
low traveler in the center of an admiring 
group of lawyers, among whom were 
Judge McLean, Judge Huntington, Mr. 
Hannigan, Albert S. White and Col. 
Thompson who were all amused and in- 
terested in a funny story he was telling. 
He frequently mentioned the name of 
Hammond and Nelson and was several 
times interrupted by roars of laughter. 
Nelson called out Browning, the land- 
lord, and asked : 

"Who is that chap who is creating so 
much sport at our expense?" 

"Don't you know him," said Browning. 
"That's Abe Lincoln, of Illinois, the 
greatest practical joker on the conti- 

That was a crusher! Mr. Nel- 
son rushed up stairs and told 
Hamniond' who was still at has 
toilet that they would be the laughing 
stock of the whole state, that they had 
been completely outwitted by our green- 
horn friend who was, no less a personage 
than that inimitable wag, Abe Lincoln, 
of Illinois, who was then convulsing our 
legal friends on the portico by an ac- 
count of our journey. Hammond rapid-" 
ly gathered up his duds, pushed them 
into his carpet sack and suddenly left the 
hotel by the back door, going down a 
muddy alley to.the Palmer house, from I 


which he did not emerge for several 

Juriouslv enough, Hammond was gov- 
ernor of the state when Lincoln arrived 
at Indianapolis, on his way to Washing- 
ton to be inaugurated as president, but 
remembering our famous journey, and 
fearing ridicule, he discseetly left the city 
and did not- return until after Lincoln's 

Nelson hadTnany opportunities after 
the stage ride to cultivate' Mr. Lin- 
coln's acquaintance and friend- 
ship, and was a zealous 
advocate of his nomination and election 
to the presidency. Eefore leaving his 
home for Washington, Mr. Lincoln cansed" 
Usher and Nelson, of this city, to be in- 
vited to accompany him. They agreed to 
join him at Indianapolis. On reaching 
that city, the presidential party had al- 
ready ^ arrived, and upon inquiry, they 
were informed that the president-elect 
was in the dining room at supper. 
Passing through, they saw that every seat 
at the numerous tables was occupied, but 
they failed t9 find Mr. Lincoln. As they 
were nearfng the door to the office of the 
hotel, a long arm reached out to Nelson's 
shoulder and a shrill voice exclaimed : 

"Hello! Nelson; do you think, after 
all, that the world is going to follow the 
darned thing 08?" 

It was Mr. Lincoln. 





A likeness of Abraham Lincoln, whose 
birthday is to be celebrated by all Ameri- 
cans on February 12, 1938. 

Tributes to Lincoln 

; Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the 
United States, was born in Hardin county, 
Kentucky, Feb. 12, 1809, and was inaugurated 
president in 1861. 

Altho time has not dimmed the greatest of 
his achievements, marred the loftiness of his 
character nor erased the quality and applica- 
tion of his noble idealism, it is interesting, even 
at this late date, to note what men of wisdom, 
many of whom did not live in Lincoin's gener- 
ation, have to say, and the following quota- 
tions are of particular importance and moment 
since this month the nation honors his birthday : 

Lloyd George said: 

"I wonder whether I will be forgiven for 
saying that George Washington was a great 
American, but Abraham Lincoln belongs to the 
common people of every land." 

Phillip Brooks, the minister, wrote: 

"He (Lincoln) vindicated the greatness of 
real goodness and the goodness of real great- 
ness. ' ' 

Emil Ludwig, French biographer of Lincoln, 
expressed himself as follows: 

"I see him like Shakespeare's characters, 
absolutely original, comparable to none, im- 
memorably unique." 

Francis Fisher Browne, Lincoln biographer, 

I "The name of Lincoln is the most distin- 
guished that has yet been written in American 

history. ' ' 

Basil Williams, another American biogra- 
pher of the man, declared: 

"His place is among the great men of the 

And that exact, accurate and impartial book, 

the Encyclopedia Britannica, affirms the fol- 

"It is hard to believe that Lincoln was at any 
time a genuine skeptic. His temper was essen- 
tially religious." 
The International Encyclopedia states: 
"He conquered by the power of truth." 
One of the greatest tributes to Lincoln was 
written by James Russell Lowell, one of Amer- 
ica's noble bards, and is included in Lowell's 
Commemoration Ode and follows: 
"How beautiful to see 
Once more a shepherd of mankind indeed, 
Who loved his charge but never loved to 


• • • • 

Stories That Made Lincoln Smile 

One day a baby was born next door and the 
doctor borrowed a fish dealer's scales to weigh 
the baby. It weighed 47 pounds! 
» • • • 

A gray-haired lover was courting a young 
girl. When asked by a neighbor how the af- 
fair was progressing he answered, ' 'All right. ' ' 

The neighbor asked then: "Has she called 
you honey yet?" 

The old man replied: "Well, not exactly 
that, but she called me the next thing to it. 
She has called me "old beeswax!" 

• • o • 

The following story, accredited to Ward, 
the famous humorist, had to do with an aris- 
tocratic lady. Ward stepped up to the woman 
at a dance and said: "You're a very handsome 

The compliment was considered by the lady 
to be insolence and she retorted: "I wish I 
could say the same thing of you." 

Ward was quick to answer: "Well, you 
could if you were as big a liar as I am." 

• • • • 

There was a boys' club in Boston which did 
not take in any members who were not Irish. 
A boy asked to be admitted to the club. Hel 
was asked: "Are you Irish?" "Oh, yes," re- 
plied the boy. "I am Irish." "What is your' 
name?" "My name is Ikey Einstein." 

c • • • 

Tad, the son of Lincoln, once asked Ward 
in Lincoln's presence: "How did Adam get 
out of Eden?" "Adam was 'snaked' out," the 
humorist replied. 

• • • 9 

Lincoln once quoted Ward saying at a cabi- 
net meeting as follows: "He was willing, iff 
need be, to sacrifice all his wife's relations 
for his country." 

The Bear Hunt 

By Abraham Lincoln. 
(That Lincoln wro,te verse, poetry as he 
termed it, is a fact that is not generally 
known, and the following selection reveals 
that the great liberator of the slaves prac- 
ticed the scribbling of verses in his youth. 
The Bear Hunt is one of his sustained poeti- 
cal flights and consists of 22 stanzas and sev- 
eral of them are printed below in order to 
give the Live Oak readers an opportunity to 
judge Lincoln in a new light, that of a poet. 

A wild bear chase didst never see? 
Then hast thou lived in vain— 

Thy richest bump of glorious glee 
Lies desert in thy brain. 

When first my father settled here, 

'Twas then the frontier line; 
The panther's scream filled night with fear 

And bears preyed on the swine. 

But woe for bruin's short-lived fun 

When rose the squealing cry; 
Now man and horse, with dog and gun 

Rush where the bear scents lie." 

In commenting on this verse, one of Lin- 
coln's biographers say: "Three verses get the 
bear to running, nine verses have the bear 
chased, four have him fighting and dying, and 
then six verses draw a moral and a lesson." 
After the death of the bear Lincoln scrib- 
bles on: 

And now a dinsome clamor rose, 

'But who should have his skin?' 
Who first draws blood, each hunter knows 

This prize must always win. 

But, who did this, and how to trace 
What's true from what's a lie— 

Like lawyers in a murder case 
They stoutly argufy. 


Tad's Kid Goat and 
the Joke on Old Abe 

Editor's Note t Mr. Terry L. Frohriep, 117 South Johnson 
Street, Garrett, Indiana, has a collection of Civil War 
letters 'written by his distant relative, Frank M. Potter, 
122 New York Regiment, Army of the Potomac. Potter had 
been wounded in the hand in the Battle of the Wilderness, 
and he was placed in Ward 5 of the Columbian Hospital in 
Washington, D.C. 

On July 22, 1864, Potter wrote to his father and 
among other things, he related the story about Tad and 
the kid goat, and thinking the story was interesting, he 
suggested that it be published in one of the Marshall, 
Michigan newspapers. It is not known whether or not 
this was done. 

Mr. Frohriep has granted permission for the story 

to appear in Lincoln Lore . The letter has been copied 

as it was written, with no effort being made to improve 

the grammar, spelling and punctuation. 

R» G. M. 

". . .it seems little Tad had a kid and he had 

ran away, well who ever got it sold it to a widow 

woman just below this hospt. for five dollars. One 

evening as Abe and Mrs. Lincoln and Tad were going up 

to the soldiers home Tad see his kid and had the team 

stoped and the driver was requested to get out and pick 

up the kid but when Cuffee went to pick up the kid he 

(Lincoln Lore - page 2) 

had a woman to deal with so the President said he was 
shure it was his kid well says the woman give me 6 
dollars and you can have it he was not disposed to pay 
for his own goat so he drove on but it seemed Tad was 
bound to h?.ve his kid. for the next morn they stoped 
to banter the woman again but no go* she had paid 5 
dollars for it and she must make a dollar on it if 
she let it go„ Cuff got down again advanced up to the 
kid* the woman came out says she you dam nigger dont 
touch that kid. yes says he but ifc is the Presidents 
kid and he told me to get it. well says she I dont 
care for you or the President, if the President sees 
fit to give me 6 dollars for the kid he can have it. 
if not you keep your hands off from the kid. at night 
when Abe and Tad came back they stoped and the President 
gave the woman 6 dollars for his lost kid and Tad rode 
by with the kid in his arms and Tad in his fathers lap 
I think the joke was rather against old Abe that time 
to have to pay 6 dollars for his own kid 

"Now as the above has made some fun here X 
thought it worth publishing as Abe is quite noted for 
his jokes you see here he got the joke on him and I 
propose to you to go and have it published in one of 
the Marshall papers if you think it worth while what I 
have related I know to be true part by personal observa- 
tion and the rest from the woman herself, she keeps a 
fruit stand near here iT. haa -w 

V Ltti(oh\ 


Brian Alexander 

We Americans like our Presidents to have certain 
mannerisms ann charac tori s t i cs that we can identify with 
our own. Such traits brinp our heroes down to barth, add 
a hum:*n element to their character, and help keep alive the 
lee-end that we are all potted from the same clay. For example , 
Lyndon Johnson was fond of dops, William Howard Taft was 
a rreat eater, John Kennedy liked to play touch football, 
and Abraha.m Lincoln liked to tell funny stories. 

It comes as no surprise that Abraham Lincoln's story- 
telling is amonp the most appealing and' popular aspects of 
his character. Certainly we admire and respect him for his 
noble manner, remarkable attainments, and undyinp patriotism — 
but he is beloved and endeared in the hearts of his countrymen 
in larpe measure because he embodied many of those human 
qualities and frailties familiar to all. And certainly S&&; 
his storytelling is one such quality. 

When discussing Lincoln's humor Ave are confronted with 
two difficulties. First of all, many of the stories attributed 
to Lincoln were, in fact, nrvor told by him. Lincoln once 
told newsp-a.porma n Noah Brooks that only about one sixth of -ill 
stories credited to him wei? ones lie actually told. While 
Lincoln was President , almost any pood joke, and many bacf 
ones, were credited to him. Publishers issued such books as 
L inco l nianfl o r Humors of Un cle Abraham r O ld Vhe's J o kes t Fresh 

from \braham's LSo som; '.V it it the '.V' hitp linus c, and many others. 
Most of these jokes Lincoln nevnr bold, but were provided by 
enterprising publishers to the readinp public. 

The second difficulty rests in tltp Pact that the sudcess 
or ef f ec ti vpness of a pood story relies heavily upon the manner 
of its telline. l #, or instance, it is possible that we may not 
be at alT amused by readinp Lincoln's stories or hearing them 
at secondhand — but we mi Hit have split our sides lauphinp had 
we henrd thp stories as he told them. "His stories may be 
literally retold," wrote his friend Henry C. Whitney r "every 
word, period and comma r but the real humor perished with Lincoln," 
for "he provoked as much laughter by the grotesque expression 
of his h om e 1 y face a s by the abs t r a c t fun of his stories." 

As a youne man Lincoln lived in small vil tapes and towns 
and one of thp favorite sources of entertainment was the story- 
teller. And a pood storyteller was likely to become one of the 
most popular citizens in the community. And Lincoln wanted to 
b oc one popular,, for he had a ha.nkorinp for politics, -^nd a 
wpIT developed ability to tell pood funny stories often meant 
votes . 

Lincoln's father Thomas and' Uncle Mordecai wptp both re- 
nowned storytellers, and were both well liked in their respective 
communities. In his latter life Lincoln would often introduce 
a story by sayinp, "As my old father used to say," whether his 
father ac t u a.l ly said it or not. In one of Lincoln's earliest 
eampo.ipn hi opra.phies r appears this statement, referrinp to 
candidate Lincoln: "From his father came? that knack of storvtellinp 


which him so del. in-lit fn I amone- acquaintances and so 
irresistible in his stump and forensic drolleries.." Lincoln,. 
correction 1 the bt ography r let the statement stand.. 

Generally speaking Lincoln's humor was the typical 
humor of the time. As a master storyteller, Lincoln became 
familiar with the "tall tales"* parpantu an exa.perration. and 
strait faced falsehoods which had as their origin the early 
settlers imaginative accounts of frontier life- And Lincoln 
began to genuinely appreciate the earthy humor and homespun 
philosophy of the farmers and frontiersmen* In his latter 
life he would assert that country people wore the originators 
of most pood stories; and it was to them and to- the experiences 

of his own rural life that he went for many of his host yarns. < 

\s an illustration of his appreciation ?& country humor, 

Lincoln liked to tell the story of a certain Mr.. John Moore* 
Mr* Moore came to Uiboomington , Illinois one Saturday mnrninr 
in a cart drawn by a fine of yonng r rod steors* Through- 
out the morning and afternoon Mr* Moore sufficiently indulged 
himself with rum and "corn juice" r as Lincoln called it* 
Consequently,, he was late startiog home.. Besides his now very 
empty brown jug,. Mr* Moore had a very heavy load upon his cart. 
In passine through a wooded grove that night* one wheel of his 
cart struck a holn or stump and threw the pole out of the ring 
of the yoke. The steers* finding themselves free, ran nwa.y r 
a.nd' left John Moore sound asleep in his cart. r where he remained 
a.l 1 night. Early in the morning lie roused himself r and looking 
over the side of the cart and around' in the woods,, he said: 

"If mv name is Jnlm Kioore, T ' re lost, n in i r of steers; if 
my name ain't John Moorc r I've found a cai't," 

Lincoln also doliphted in telllnr the story of James 
Lark in, who was a preat hand to brarr on nnythinp he owned . 
On this particular occassion it was his horse.. Me stepped 
before Lincoln , who was in a crowd r and commenced talkinp 
to him, boasting all the wliile of his animal. "I have not 
the best horse in the country,.'' he shouted to his listener. 
I ran him nine miles in exactly three minutes, and he» never 
fetched a ] on," breath." "Probably not", replied Lincoln 
father dryly,, "but I presume lie fetched a pood many short ones." 

The keenness of Lincoln's humor was acquired in larpe 
part from his intimate understanding nf men.. This under- 
standing was developed' considerably durinrr his years at New 
Salem — where he lived on equal terms with the villagers — 
but was deeply enriched by his lnw practice and h i s experiences 
as an itinerant lawyer on the 61d ICiphth Judicial Circuit. 
On the circuit Lincoln not only studied human nature first 
hand," wrote bioprapher Benjamin P. Thomas, "but also developed 
his capacity as a storytel lei - . Fren from the cares and worries 
nf home, in the company nf congenial and a.pp r ee i a.h 1 e com- 
panions, he crave full vent to his whimsicality." 

During the evoninps, after the day's business in court 
had boen accomplished, the lawyers would pather i\~\ their 
1 oiTrri p rr]\ niis e to participate in hours nf serious discussion 
and un for pet able storytelling. Lincoln, with his endless 
supply of irresistibly funny stories, was the most popular 
storyteller. "Oh. , Lord , wasn't lie funny 1", exclaimed fellow 
lawyer Usher K- Linder, "Any remark, any incident brourrht 

from h tin an appropri ite tale." Circuit Judge David Dnvis wns 
so fond of Lincoln's stories that he would often sit up until 
after midnight listening to them, and then declare that he 
had' laughed so hard that he believed hfs ribs find boon shaken 
loose. Sometimes Judge Dnvis rvn stopped courtroom pro- 
ceedings to listen to Lincoln's clever witticisms. 

Lincoln delighted in telling of the little frenchman 
who was out West during the winter of the "Deep Snow". The 
frenchman's Ip^s were so short, said Lincoln, that the soat 
of his trousers rubbed out his footprints as he walked. Another 
time, when ask err how Ion" a man's $e#B should he r Lincoln 
instantly replied 1 that he reckoned they should at least he 
Song enough to reach the ground . 

Henry C .. 'Yhitney remembered an episode in Jurire Davis' 
court when the judge came across a loop bill in chancery, 
drawn up by an excel lent , but rather la/.y lawyer, named Snap. 
The j lid frp r studying the bill, exclaimed: "Why, Brother Snap, 
how did von rake up enough energy to> get up such a Innf bill?" 
"Dunno, Judge," replied Snap, snuirming in his sent and un- 
easily scratching his head. The j\\<]rrp then held up the bill 
for all to see: "Astonishing, ain't it? Brother Snap did 
it.. Wonderfiul, eh Lincoln' 7 " This, nT course , w,-is n cue 
for Lincoln to interrupt with a ,j<»Ke; ninl he was, of course, 
ready. "It's like the lazy preacher," drawled Lincoln, "t h^t 
used to write lone sermons, and the a nati on w:is tlr-'t 
he rot to writ in', and was too la/.y to stop." 


Ijinco 1 n a 1 so I iked to t r M about the Lino h { s fr i end 
i t « c I l«w 'issnci 'it,p in Danville, Illinois, 'Vn id Hill Lnmon, 
tnre the spit nf his breeches tl urine soup horseplay in front 
of the courthouse. \ petition was ci rcul ntod amonp the 
lawyers, reuuostinp contributions Tor the repnir nf tho 
damarred troltsers r whereupon Lincoln wrote, "I can contribute 
no thine to the end in view." Perhaps tic would also relate 
the story about the farmer who brappod about the si/.e of oh.e 
year's bay crop. -\ccordinp to I.incnl n, tho farmer c .1. aimed it 
was so hip, that when harvest time came ho stacked all ho 
could outdoors, and then put tho rest of it in tho barn* 
Or Lincoln or, occassion mipht even toll ah out tho old, strict 
-judre who would hanr a man for blowinp his nose in tho street, 
but won 1 rl nuish tho indictment if it failod to spocifv which 
hand ho bio*' it with. 

Dill or' s drupstoro on the snnare in Springfield was 
always a favorite Catherine place for Lincoln and his cronies. 
Nearly ev*»ry evening a crowd of fifteen to twenty met around 
the drups tore's stove and talked of everything under the 

heavens and Ijinco In was always ready with n story. His 

favorite position when tell in« T a yarn w- - «s to sit with his 
1 onp 1 eps proppo<\ up on the rail of the stove, or with his 
feet apainst the wall., and thus he would sit for hours 
en terta in i up r. crowd. And no one eon Id "re In to a story 
without remind i ne him of a simi lar one, and if a p-ood story- 
teller was present, he was more than willinp to share tho time 

lie was ns much amused as any nf his hearers n t his own stories, 
and lauphed more heartily than anyone. And when Lincoln 
told or heard a particularly (rood story, and the time came 
to lnuph r ''he would sometimes throw his loft foot across his 
rirrht knee, and clnnchinp his foot with both hands and bending 
forward, his whoLe frame seemed to be convulsed with laughter." 

For example, Lincoln liked to joke nbout the rather 
uninviting appearance of Springfield n t tint time, later a 
subject of much .jest by the residents- According to Lincoln, 
a man one day op plied to thon Secretary of St -'it* 3 Thomas 
Campbell for nermissio.n to deliver a series of lectures in 
the Hall of the Mouse nf Representatives nt the Old State 
House- "May I ask what is to be the subject of vnur lectures?' 1 , 
inquired Campbell- "Cert airily , "camp the answer, "They are on ' 
the second com inn of the Lord." "It's no use," was Campbell's 
reply, as n'uotod by Lincoln- "If yo(i will take my advice you 
will not waste your time in this city. It is my private 
opinion that if the Lord hns been in Springfield once, he will 
not come a second time-" 

Durinp- his early Springfield years Lincoln sometimes lacked 
discretion when un 1 eash ir\r his "t£o arsenal of humor. In fact, 
his pi f 1/ for ridicule nearly led to fatality i n 1PI!2. On 
\urrust '11 of that year, Lincoln wrote one of t h <» font" so called 
"Robedca" let tors, printed in the S annnm o Journal — the letters 
wore signed with the alias name of "Rebecca". Lincoln's con- 
tribution, which mercilessly and tastelessly lampooned the state 

auditor of accounts, James Shields, 1 orl to his boin.n- 
challenged to a duel by Shields, After n number of 
verbal and written exchanges , serious in intent, but 
in pPfpct serio— comic nnd so rni'inl icated they would 
have done credit to Shakespeare ' s "Comedy of Errors". 
idle duo] was called o T T^ 

On another ncoassion liincnln's remarkable talent 
for mimicry round him in the middle of a very difficult 
situation. r n a speech at the rourthnusR, Jesse Thorns 
made several sarcastic allusions to Lincoln, and Lincoln, 
feeling the stinp of Thomas' allusions, resorted to mimicry. 
Vnd Lincoln's ability as a mimic, according to Herndon, was 
without rival. "Jle imitated Thomas in posture and voice, 
at times caricaturing his walk a.nd the very motions of 
his body," Herndon remembered .. "Thomas, who was oh' L°*ed 
to sit near by h\u\ endure the pain of the unique ordeal, 
was ordinarily sensitive; but the exhibition croaded him 
to desperation.. He „. »nc tun! ly rave way to tears. .►The next 
day it was the talk of the town, and for afterwards 
it wns called the "skinuinr of Thomas".. , " Herndon after- 
ward remembered Lincoln sayinp "that the recol lection of 
his conduct that evoninp filled him with the deepest 
charrjrin. he felt that he had "one too far, a.nd to rid his 
rood nature of n load, hunted up Thomas and made ample 
a no 1 opy ► "■£— do th of these eoisodos neie lessons Lincoln never 
for.e-ot , and from that time on he became more restrained in 
such situations. 


Lincoln pn i oyed fcpl ' tnr i food joke nn others, Imt he 
also had the nrf ability to liinrnciatn one on himsel P. In 
innnv cases he made himsel P the butt of his own joke. I 'o r 
nxnpipl e r lie liked to toll of t'uo time ho was ridine alone- 
n narrow ro id , and was mot by n woman comine Prom Llie opposite 
direction. As she passed , the woman lookod at Lincoln 
intently find finally observed: "Well, yon are the upliest 
man I over saw." "Perhaps so," admitted Lincoln, "but I 
can't help that, madam." "No, I suppose not," agreed tho 
woman, "but you mifht stay at' hone!" 

Lincoln also told oP the man who nreostod him on the 
train, snyinf: "Exrnse me f sir, but I have an article in 
my possession which rifbtCnllv bolonrs to y<n." "How is 
tbat?" r asked Lincoln in amazement. Whereupon the stmneer 
produced a j ;i o k kniPe and explained: "This kni Pe was placed 
in my bands some years neo, with the injunction that I was 
to keep it until I Pound a man uplier than ruysel f. Allow 
me to say, sir, that I think you are fairly entitled to the 
proper ty . " 

Sometimes Lincoln liked to recall the time when a rn.thor 
vicious lookinf Pol low drew a revolver and thrust the weapon 
a. 1 most into his Pace.. In such circumst mens Lincoln realized 
that any attempt at argument was n waste oP time and words. 
"What seems to he the matter?" Inquired Lincoln, with all 
the courage lie could muster. "Well," ro n 1 i ed the s tr an," e r , 
who <^\^ not appear to be at all excited, "some aeo I 
s»'ore an th-<t i P I ever crime across an uflier man than 


inysol T r I'd sh.obt him on the spot*" A Feel £ n p- of relief 
evidently took possession nf Lincoln, for he calmly replied: 
"Shoot in e , for if I nm tii upiior man thn.n you I don't, want 
to 1 ive. " 

Mflny tim^s Lincoln would use humor to temper or respond 
to an attack bv a political opponent. For example, durinp 
the Li nc ol n— Dourr I n s Debate at fralesburp, Lincoln's opponent 
Stephen A- Hondas mnde the comment that Lincoln had railed 
in everything he had ever attempted — fanninr, law, -<nd lienor 
selling. And now, said Don pi. as, he was try inn - politics, 
ind would probably fail in that, too. Lincoln arose and 
aprecd that Doupl as had presented an accurate picture of his 
past. "It's true — every word of it. I've tried a lot of 
thines, but there is one thine" that' dud<*e Douplas has 
for pot ten. lie told you that I sold liquor, but, he didn't 
mention that while I had quit my side of the counter, the 
jwlpo has renin i nod on hi. s," 

Another ti" n e while he wis in Congress in 1R'1 Q Lincoln 
made a lonr speech, intended to be humorous, in which he 
attacked (roneral Lewis Cass, who was the Democratic candidate 
for the Presidency. In this pa.ssa.fe he makes lipht nf Cass's 
military exploits by comparinp them to his own inpl.oriou.s and 
rather uneventful experiences durinp the black Hawk War. 
"by the way, Mr. Speaker, did you know J nm a. mi Mtary hero" 
Yes, s i r ; in the days n? the 151 nek Hawk 'Var I Poupht, bled 


and c'iip awiy, Sneak in" of Genera. 1 Cass's carepr reminds hip 
of my own. I ins nnt .i I, Stillman's Defeat, but I wis 
nhont as near it as Cass was to Hull's Surrender; nn<\ 
like him, I saw thn place vorv soon afinrward. It, is niiiti? 
certain I ('id not break mv r sword , Cor I bad none to break; 
but I bent a musket pretty badly on on^ nccassion. IP 
Cass broke his sword r the idea is he broke it in des- 
peration; I boot the musket by accident. If General Cass 
went in advance of me pickine huckleberries, I paioss I 
surpassed him in charges upon wi id onions. If Iip saw- 
any live, Pi. Hi tin," Indians, it was more than I did; but 
I had a ,coorl many bloody stru/?."les with the mosquitoes, 
and although I never Fainted from the loss of blood, I 
can trulv say I was often very hnnrry. Mr. Speaker, i P 
they shall ovpv take me nn as their candidate for the 
Presidency, I protest they shall not make Tun of me, as 
they have of General. C:\ss, by at torn nt in," to write me into 
a mi 1 it ary hero." 

Illustrative of Lincoln's flair for exarrerrabion 
and burlesque description is his comical description of 
an Illinois militia, muster. "'Ae remember the parados,." 
lie said, "at the head of which on horseback, rode our old 
friend Gordon ,\, with a nine wood sword about nine 
feet Ion.", and n pasteboard cocked hat, from front to 
rnir about the length of an ox-yoke, nnd very much the 
same shape of one turned bottomwards; and with sours bavincr 
rowels as 1 'U'cp a «? the bottom of a tea.cup, nnd shanks a 


foot nrul n hi I r InnfT.. That was the last nil i tin muster 
hero. Amour the rules find rern 1 n ti ons , no man was to 
weir more than r ibvo pounds of codfish Tor epaulets, or 
more than thirty yards of bo! of n a snusa.fe for a sash; and 
no two men were to dross alike, and if any t-vo should dress 
alike, the one who dressed most alike was to ho fined. 
Plafrs were carried at the muster which horn tho motto: 
"'We'll ft f lit till wp run, and w^' 11 run till we dip." 

Many explanations nf why Lincoln i rid ul pod in humor 
havo hoen offerred. JuHfo David Davis remembered how, on 
the circuit, "if the day wis lonp and lie was oppressed, the 
feelinf was soon relieved by tlip narration of a story. The 
tavern loungers enjoyed it, and his melancholy, takinp to 
itsel f wines, seemed to fly away." \nd many others noted 
how he would suddenly emerpe from the cleepest dejection with 
a quick pun or brilliant yarn. 

But humor was more to Lincoln than a psychological reaction 
It served many useful functions. It was, as Ward Hill Lamon 
said, "a labor savinp contrivance." 

For example, humor provided Lincoln with a moans of 
fettinf nv food torms with peoplp. When ho camp to New Salem, 
on election day in IHI',1 r ho established himself in tho pood 
fra.ees of the vil labors by en to rt •> i n i nf thorn with stories as 
thov loun'M'd about the polls. And many a visitor to the 
White House was nut a.t ease by tho President's colorful ion of an nnecdote. Kor instance, Lincoln liUed t, o tell 
about the time a proup of his Sprinpfiold cronies camp to 


Washington to visit. Lincoln, °f course, was delighted to 
see them.. -\s one particular friend was about to leave one 
nipht, lie said to Lincoln: "i>)ow, Mr. President, I want von 
t O' be horipst, with mo awl tell mo how yon like boinp President 
of the United States." Lincoln mnl i»rl: "Your have hoard 
the story, haven't you, sib out the 'nan who was tar rod and 
•Feathered and carried out of town on a rail? A man in the 
crowd Msked him how he liked it. Mi: s was that if it weren't 
for the honor of the thine-, lie would much rather walk." 

Many times Lincoln round in humor a necessary outlet to 
relieve his overburdened mind. In cabinet meetings he Hreouently 
recited passapos Prom his favor ite humorists to ease his mind 
before tackling a difficult nroblem or rlecLdipr- upon an important 
step.. Once, when ho rend a. particularly food story before 
opening a cabinet meotino-, lie could not understand why the 
other members of the cabinet failed to appreciate the humor 
as he did. "fieri 1 1 enien , " he is reported to have said, "why 
don't you lauph? With the fearful strain that is upon me 
nindit and day, if I did not 1 aurh occassional 1 y I should die, 
and you need' this medicine as much as I do." 

Sometimes Lincoln's souse of humor hoi pod his his 
strained eolations with certain members of his cabinet. 
I'nr e\ amnio, when a de I err, -i.|, j on , which he had sent to Secretary 
of War Stanton with orders to fninl their reouest, returned 
and reported that not only had .Stanton refused to do so, but 
had actually called Lincoln a fool for sendinp such an order, 
Lincoln, with mock astonishment, ineuired: "Did Stanton call 


mo r\ fool?" — and , upon beinn rr.'ssuriM' upon that point, 
r*»rnr'<pil: "ffpi 1 , I fiipss I had bettor po ovor and sne 
Statiton about this, for Stanton is usually ripht." 

On another occassinn Lincoln wrote Stanton a little 
noto, renupst i np n certRin appointment, sa.yinr»; "Dour 
Stanton: \ppoint this man chaplain in tho army." Stnnton 
wrote back: "Dear Mr* Lincoln: He is not a preacher . " 
Lincoln replied with another note: "Dear Stanton: He is now." 

Lincoln - 'lso liked to tell stories Tor sheer nonsense. 
Witness his unwi 1 1 inrness to apply the death penalty to 
sol fliers who deserted been use of c own id ice Tor the reason 
that "it would friphton the poor devils to death to shoot 
them." Or his story nbout the old Irishman with the new 
boots who wis afraid he would not be nblo to ret them on 
until he had worn them a day or two to stretch them. 

Ourinp the war, when his storytelling was widely known, 
Lincoln told this story, and probabl y led the lauphter when 


it. It seems that two Quakers were in a railroad 
conch talkinp. One of them, speaking of Confederate President 
Jefferson Davis, said, "1 think Davis will succeed.' 1 "Why 
does thee think so?" asked the other. lie can so Jefferson 
Dnvis is a praying man r "re f> I ir<\ the fist. "But so is Abraham 
a or ay i rip man," said the second. "Yes", came the reply, "but 
the Lord will think that Abraham is jokinp." 

Lincoln often turned to humor as a means of esca.pinp 
from a difficult position or avoidinp an embarrassing 
c ommit tnen t . Hilly Ilerndon remembered that Lincoln was at 
his best when outwit! inn- people who to him to tret information 


that he ('if! not w L >, | ) to divulre. In such cscs Lincoln did 
most of the ta.lkinp, "swinrinp around what ho suspected was 
the vital point, but never nearinp it r interlardinp his 
ansverji with n. sepminply endless supply of stories and 
jokes." The importunate visitor would leave in splendid 
spirits; but after walkinp n few blocks would rpnlizp that 
lie had not achieved his purpose. "Ulowinp away the froth of 
Lincoln's humorous narratives," said llerndon, "he would find 
no thinp left." i*»Si!»*? 

Once n. certain povernor to Lincoln and anrrily 
requested demands Ijincoln couldn't possibly prn.nt. "I 
suppose you found it necessary to make larre concessions to 
him, as lie returned from your interview completely sa.tisfiod," 
suppestod a friend. "(Mi r no," replied the President, "I did 
not concede anythinp. You have heard liow that Illinois farmer 
rot rid of a birr lof that was too hip to haul away, too 
knotty to split, and too wot and soppy to burn? Well, when 
asked how he rot, rid of it the farmer roplied, "Well, now, 
boys, if you won't divul. pe the secret, I'll toll you how I 
<rnt rid of it — I plowed around it," 'Wow, remarked Lincoln, 
don't tell anybody, but that's the way I rot rid of the 
povernor. 1 plowed al 1 around him, but it. took me throe 
mortal hours to do it, and J was afraid every minute he'd 
.<*ee what I was up to.." 

On the judicial circuit an appropriate yarn frequently 
put across his point to the jury in a clearer manner than hours 
of arpumeiit could have done. And durine his Presidency he 


round Ills stories nn loss usefrl. They we rr an invil unhlo 
ai<] when express inn- clarity of mean inf. As law part nor 

ilerndon explained: "Mr. Lincoln was often pernlexed to 
rive expression to his ideas. ..lie was frequently at n loss 
for a wnn' T and hence compel. led to resort to stories, maxims, 
and jokes to embody his ideas." "I have found in the course 
of « lonf experience," Lincoln once explained to Cha.uncey 
M. Dopew, "that common peop ! e— Qcommon people — take them as 
they run, nr" more easily influenced and informed thrnufh 
the mediunT of a story than in any other *ny." 

For example, when Horace (Jreely, Legendary editor of 
the New York Trihune , made Lincoln the subject of constant 
and sca.thinp' editorial criticism, Lincoln was reminded of a 
story. "It reminds me of the l>i« T fellow," he said, "whose 
little wife heat him over the lie ad without resistance. The 
man said to some concerned friends, "Let her alone. It 
don't hurt me, and dns it does her a power of rood." 

In another instance Lincoln illustrated the virtue of 
patience in a story he told when his tardiness made him and 
of, her officials miss a train to New York. The President was 
reminded of a convict who n-is about to he han.cod for murderinp 
his cellmate. There was much shovinr and confusion in the 
crowds on the road to witness the execution. As a. prnup of 
perspirinp - men rushed past the cart in which the convicted 
man was ridine, he called out, "Don't be in a hurry, hoys. 
You've eot plenty of time. There won't he any fun till I pet 
th-'re." Thus the President drew his moral. "That's the condition 
of things now, "he said, "There won't he any fnn in New York until 
I eot there." 


Lincoln also 1 iked to tell of the t i.hip when he rl #?c f «l r»rl 
to replace his then Secretary of 'v'a.r, and several senators 
thought the occassion was ideal to replace all seven cabinet 
mem hers and thus restore the waninp confidence of the country. 
Lincoln listened patiently and then replied: "Gentlemen, 
your request for a change of the whole cnln'nct, because I 
have made one chanpe, reminds me of a story I once heard in 
Illinois, of a farmer who was much troubled by skunks. His 
wife insisted that the farmer tret rid of them. So tie loaded 
his shot pun one moonlit nipht and awaited developments. After 
some time the wife heard the shot pun po off r and in a few minutes 
the farmer entered the house. "Did vou have any luck'f" asked 
the wife. "Wel.l r " said the old man y "I h lg myself behind the 
wood— pile, with the shotpun pointed toward the hen roost, and 
before lone there a ripen rod not one skunk r hut seven. I took 
aim, blazed away, killed one r and he raised such a fearful 
smell that I concluded it was best to let the other six po." 
Once Lincoln drew his moral T and the senators, pettinp 
the messapo, la.uphod and retired. 

Durinp his precious few moments of relaxation in the White 
House Lincoln liked to r^ ad the works of contemporary wits. 
He was especially fond o '' David lioss Locke, hotter known as 
Petroleum V. Nasby, whose political satires wore quite popular. 
Nearly every man who his written recollections of Lincoln has 
told how the President, in the middle of a serious conversation, 
won^T suddenly stop and ask his hearer if he ever read the N'asby 
letters. So hiph was Lincoln's repard for Petroleum that lie 
is reported to have said, "I am eoine to write Petroleum to come 


d own horn, -i nd f i n \ <•> n<' to bel 1 Mm bh •» t if he will c ommu n i r n t n 
his talents to mo, I will pladly swop places with him J" 

Lincoln 1 ovod to piss ;il onf the rooil tilings ho heard or 
road, J I i s own pleasure was enhanced by tho pleasure ho pave 
others. John May, nne of Lincoln* s secretaries in tho White 
[louse, remembered such -in incident. "A little after midnight... 
tho President came into tho office I a.uphinp, with n volume... 
in his hanrl to show me a little r a. r iea ture . . .seem i nply utterly 
unconscious that he, with his short skirt ha tiring about his I nui' 
loos, n n d s e 1 1 i n n out 1 » o h i n d like tho t a i 1 fo n t, h p r s of an 
enormous ostrich, was infinitely runnier than anythinp in the 
book he was l.auphinp at ....What n man it is! Occupied all day with 
matters n? vast moment, deeply anxious about tho fate of tho 
greatest nrmv in the world, with his own fern* 1 and future hanpinp 
upon the events of tho passinp hous, ho vet has such a wealth of 
s i m p 1 o bonhomie nod pood fellowship, that ho rots out of bod r> n f l 
perambulates the house i n his shirt, to find us that wo may share 
tho fun. . . " 

"Lincoln's humor," wrote hinpanher I3cn.ja;nin l 1 . Thomas, "in its 
unconventional i ty, its use of hacU country vernacular, its 
willinpness to see b hi tips as they were, its shrewd comments in 
home ly , ea r thy phr a so , . . . ty p i f i ed the Ame r ica.n humo r of his time.. 
In his humor, as in his rise from obscurity to C-^Ar ,-inrl J ri his 
si mole, democratic faith and tl'oupht, ho epitomized tho American 
ideal . " 

Milwaukee Sentinel 
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

Old Abe's Humor 
Often Made 

By CLARK KINNAIRD, Hearst Headline Service Special to the Sentinel 

SOME STAID members of his cabinet felt it undignified for 
President Lincoln to inject homely humor so frequently into his 
speeches, public statements and conferences at the White House. 
Lincoln commented to a friend: 

"They say I tell a great many stories; I reckon I do, but I 
have learned from long experience that plain people, take them 
as they run, are more easily influenced through the medium of a 
broad and humorous illustration than any other way; and what 
the hypercritical few may think, I don't care." 

He also explained, "A funny story, if it has the element of 
genuine wit, has the same effect on me that I suppose a good 
square drink of whisky has on an old toper; it puts new life into 
me. The fact is that I have always believed that a good laugh 
was good for both the mental and the physical digestion." 

HERE- ARE some choice Lincoln stories, 
as»found in his'letters or speeches, or re- 
corded by biographers: 

Lincoln referred jocularly to his homeli- 
ness: "When I was two months old I was 
the handsomest child in Kentucky, but my 
Negro nurse swapped me off for another boy 
just to please a friend who was going down 
the river whose child was rather plain- 

LINCOLN repeated, with delight, the 
story of the country hick who stepped up to 
an aristocratic-looking lady and told her: 
"Jeepers creepers, but you sure are a hand- 
some looking woman." She snapped haught-> 
ily to the stranger, "Young man, I wish I 
could say the same thing of you." He re- 
sponded with a grin, "You could, lady, if 
you were as big a liar as I am." 

BESET BY office-seekers, Lincoln said, 
"I am like a man so busy in letting rooms 
at one end of his house that he can't stop 
to put out the fire that is burning up the 

boys, Tad and Willie, when small. "One had 
a toy the other wanted and clamored for. 
At last I told him to let his brother have it 
in order to quiet him. The boy -blurted out, 
'but, I must have it to quiet myself.' " 

AN OLD ILLINOIS acquaintance of Lin- 
coln's called upon him with a view to secur- 
ing a profitable war contract. Lincoln told 
him that contraots were not what they used 
to be. "In fact," Lincoln said, "they remind 
me of a piece of meadowland in the Sanga- 
mon bottoms -during a drouth." 

"How was that?" the contract seeker 

"Why," said Lincoln, "the grass was 
so short they had to lather It before they 
could mow it." 

LINCOLN TOLD of a youth who emi- 
grated from New York to the West and 
• soon wrote back to his father, who was 
something of a politician, "Dear Dad: I 
have settled here and like it first rate. Do 
come out here, Dad, for almighty mean men 
get office here." 

ONCE THE CONFLICTING demands "THERE ARE TWO things even Gqd 

madron him reminded Lincoln of his two Almighty doesn't know: How an Illinois jury 

(j yvkomp^^ J